Second bronze for Becky James as Elinor Barker wins gold
9:33pm Thursday 21st February 2013 in Sport
GWENT’S Becky James claimed her second medal of the Track Cycling World Championships with bronze in the women's 500metres time-trial on day two of in Minsk.
The 21-year-old from Abergavenny won a surprise team sprint bronze with Vicky Williamson on day one and followed it up with third place behind Hong Kong's Lee Wai Sze on day two.
James was first of the 12 riders to go, setting the target of 34.133 seconds and a new personal best.
The mark stood until Lee, the 10th of 12 riders, took to the track and went 0.160secs quicker in 33.973secs.
Miriam Welte of Germany, the last to ride, clocked 33.996 to take silver.
Vicky Williamson, who combined with James to claim bronze on day one, finished 11th in 35.409.
James clocked a personal best in the non-Olympic event by six tenths of a second and her form bodes well ahead of the individual sprint competition on Friday and Saturday and Sunday's Keirin.
"I'm pretty shocked," said James, who won sprint Commonwealth Games silver for Wales behind Olympic champion Anna Meares in 2010. "I've come in with good form, but 500's always been a hard event and I didn't expect to come away with a medal.
"It was a bit of an agonising wait towards the end, when everyone was going a bit slower. To come away with a medal, I'm so happy.
"It's definitely the best form I've ever had coming into a competition. I'm just excited what I can do tomorrow.
"I haven't raced with good form for a while. It's always harder racing when you're going a bit steadier on the bike.
"I'm looking forward to tomorrow."
Also today Olympic champions Laura Trott and Dani King celebrated a third successive women's team pursuit title as Wales’ Elinor Barker savoured her first rainbow jersey in Minsk.
A fifth World Championships title in six years means Trott and King are unbeaten in the three-woman, three-lap event since February 2011, when representing a junior British team at the Manchester Track World Cup. They have won three world titles in three attempts and London 2012 Olympic gold in that time.
Barker, the 18-year-old schoolgirl from Cardiff, slotted in seamlessly to the space vacated by Joanna Rowsell, who opted to focus on the road after combining with Trott and King to clock six successive world records in winning world and Olympic gold in 2012.
The Llanishen School A Level student won the junior world time-trial title at the Road World Championships last September and was thrilled with adding a senior track crown.
"It's a big shock. It hasn't really sunk in yet," she said.
"The junior time-trial was expected. I had been working towards it for a whole year.
"I've done a lot of team pursuit work, but always with a view to being the best that I can be, rather than being the best in the world."
In the end it appeared a simple win. After qualifying almost two seconds clear of Australia, Britain finished the final in three minutes 18.140 seconds, with Annette Edmondson, Ashlee Ankudinoff and Melissa Hoskins 1.773secs adrift.
Barker has had just two days at school this year due to cycling and the weather. The last time she returned victorious there was a celebration in the common room, with U2's Beautiful Day blasting out of the stereo and confetti thrown.
"I just went bright red and it was nice, but it was horrible at the same time," added Barker, who has been continuing her Biology and PE studies while in Belarus.
Barker has provided a fresh input into the squad and was so keen to contribute she volunteered to perform two arduous one-and-a-half-lap turns at the front of the three-rider train.
Barker's focus was on her first effort at the front.
"That's all I've been thinking about the last few days: control that first turn and then the rest of the ride will come," she said.
The event was added to the World Championships programme in 2008 and Britain have won every time apart from in Copenhagen in 2010.
With the event poised to increase to 4km and four riders after this competition, Barker is likely to be an integral member of the squad for years to come.
King, at 22 the eldest in the team, added: "She's going to be a key part of the team in the future.
"We just work really hard and come together as a team. We ride as one not three individuals.
"We've got so much trust in each other and belief. That's key, every time we get on the line."
While many athletes have spoken of a London 2012 hangover, Trott, double Olympic champion and defending her world omnium title this weekend, dismissed the suggestion.
"No way," said Trott, who will not be 21 until April. "Who wouldn't want to win another stripy jumper?"
Three-time Olympic champion Jason Kenny, Trott's boyfriend, missed out on adding a world title in the men's team sprint as Britain finished sixth.
Philip Hindes, Kenny and Kian Emadi clocked 44.270secs as Germany's Rene Enders, Stefan Botticher and Maximilian Levy won gold in 43.495. New Zealand were second and France third.
Hindes and Kenny won London 2012 gold with Sir Chris Hoy, who is currently on sabbatical as he considers his future, with 20-year-old Emadi taking the Scot's place in his first senior World Championships.
Los Angeles in 2005 was the last time Britain's men won the team sprint at a World Championships, when Hoy combined with Jamie Staff and Jason Queally, meaning that curiously Kenny has two Olympic titles but none in the annual global event.
Australia's Michael Hepburn successfully defended his men's four-kilometre individual pursuit title as Ireland's Martyn Irvine had to settle for silver.