CYCLING star Becky James says she is heading to the Rio Olympics with a renewed sense of self-confidence following her bronze medal at the track world championships earlier this year.

Abergavenny-born James, 24, will be cheered on by boyfriend and Wales rugby ace George North at next month’s Olympic Games in Brazil as she goes for gold in both the sprint and keirin.

A two-time world gold medallist in 2013, James makes her Games bow after just missing out on a place in the Team GB squad for London 2012.

And it was in London in March that James feels she turned a corner after a long spell out through injury and illness.

A bronze in the keirin came five months after she had come back from a knee problem and cancer scare that put her career on hold for a year-and-a-half.

“I’m over the moon to be going to Rio,” she said. “I obviously missed out on London and that was really hard for me.

“It was really hard watching but obviously I was thrilled when everyone was getting their medals.

“It turned out to be the best thing for me because it gave me that bit extra to knuckle down in training.

“Obviously I had a good worlds in 2013 and I think for me that was probably my first step out there to show I was putting my foot on the podium.

“I hadn’t really stepped up before that. I had a really good season after that, getting on the podium at all the World Cups in the keirin, and then again at the worlds in 2014 getting the bronze.

“It was quite a relaxed year for me but then I was so determined to knuckle down because I wanted to have that winning feeling again, and that’s when I picked up my injury.

“I had 18 months out and it has been a long, hard journey back. And it took up to the worlds in London to get any confidence in myself back because I had a pretty rubbish season at the World Cups.

“Not getting through the first rounds gave me no confidence in my ability, so getting back on the podium felt like winning a gold medal.”

James and her fellow Team GB riders including Bradley Wiggins, Mark Cavendish and Laura Trott have been using the facilities at Newport’s velodrome in preparation for Rio.

As usual, British cyclists are expected to bring back their fair share of medals from South America, although James isn’t putting too much pressure on herself.

“I’m just going with an open mind and knowing that I’ve done everything I can possibly do,” she added.