ABERGAVENNY cycling star Becky James boosted her hopes of Olympic glory in Rio this summer with a bonus bronze medal at the UCI Track World Championships in London tonight.

James, a double world champion in 2013, was not expected to make the podium on her return to the world stage following two years blighted by injury and illness.

The 24-year-old had to qualify for the semi-finals of the keirin event through the repechage races after finishing third in her heat this afternoon.

James then claimed third place in her semi-final to qualify for the final.

And, despite being boxed in and dropping to sixth place on the last lap, she fought back to cross the line in third and earn a bronze medal.

Australia’s Anna Meares won silver and Germany’s Kristina Vogel took gold and the world champion’s rainbow jersey.

It was a debut at the Lee Valley VeloPark – venue for the Olympics and Paralympics four years ago – for James, who missed out on London 2012 and the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow two years ago.

And the surprise medal was hugely encouraging for her chances of making it to Rio this year.

“I can’t actually believe it,” James said afterwards. “You always want a gold medal but to have a bronze after all I’ve been through in the last two years and at home in London with all the support is just incredible. I’m over the moon.

“I haven’t actually ridden a keirin since the nationals in September and each step I made today was a bonus.

“Just getting into the final was fantastic but to come third it just doesn’t feel real – I’m just so over the moon to be back!

“It’s been a really tough road,” she added. “The World Cups were really tough for me this winter but just to be back and doing keirin, which is the one event I truly love, feels so good.”

Also this evening Cardiff's Owain Doull won silver in the men's team pursuit alongside Sir Bradley Wiggins, Ed Clancy and Jon Dibben and Laura Trott stormed to gold in the women's scratch race. 

But there was disappointment for Trott and two more Welsh riders in the women's team pursuit earlier in the day.

Team GB had won this event six times in eight years at world championships, finishing second the other two years, but they were down in fifth in qualifying and can now only win bronze.

Olympic champions Trott and Joanna Rowsell Shand were joined by Cardiff’s Elinor Barker and Langstone-based rider Ciara Horne – a quartet that has had plenty of success in recent years.

But Horne and Rowsell Shand were dropped by Trott and Barker with more than 1,000m to go and they could not recover.

Australia pushed GB into fifth, meaning the foursome can still win bronze tomorrow, but cannot make the gold-medal ride.