James ready for Olympic moment after rollercoaster road to Rio
Cycling Track

James ready for Olympic moment after rollercoaster road to Rio

13 August 2016 / 10:00
After a rollercoaster ride to even just be able to call herself an Olympian, it’s no surprise Becky James is making it a family affair out in Rio.

The journey to competing at an Olympic Games is not meant to be an easy one – millions try and millions fail – but James has been handed her fair share of challenges this past Olympiad, from injury to illness.

Those difficulties will be worth it though when the Abergavenny cyclist rolls onto the Olympic Velodrome track later today to kickstart her keirin bid.

And backed by her close-knit family  – her parents David and Christine have travelled outside Europe for the first time to watch her compete in Rio – while Welsh rugby player and boyfriend George North is also in attendance, the 24-year-old is determined to enjoy herself.

“I’ve suffered with injury and illness over the last few years but I’ve got a great support network and my family have kept me strong,” she said.

"They kept saying they believed in me, and that they knew I'd get back - but I just found it really hard on those darker days but I'm glad I knuckled through now.

“There’s going to be a lot of people in Rio supporting me, including my grandparents and my uncle Richard and my auntie who is flying up from their home in Buenos Aires.

“Mum's never been on a long-haul flight before and she's a little bit nervous about flying. There’s about eight of them in total. 

“It's a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, so I'm glad they can experience it with me. It’s been a long journey but I’m just super excited to get going.”

James’ challenges during the past Olympiad have been well documented.

An unused reserve for London 2012, James won four World Championship medals  - including gold in the sprint and keirin – the following year – before a combination of knee and shoulder injuries plus a cancer scare took her away from the track.

She returned in August 2015 before taking world keirin bronze in London in March to truly prove her credentials for Rio.

Thursday’s opening day of track cycling, where Great Britain women’s team pursuit squad set a new world record, proved how quick the Olympic Velodrome is.

And it is set to be an intriguing battle in the keirin too with Kristina Vogel and Anna Mears – the two women who finished above James at the Worlds – also in action.

“It means the world to me to be in Rio,” added James. “It may have broken me quite a lot if I hadn't been selected, after all the hard work I've put in and all the rehab I did, not riding my bike for four months.

"Obviously there's a little bit of pressure, but for me I've got my own mindset, I know exactly what I want to do and I'm going to keep it that way and, you know, it's a once in a lifetime opportunity and I want to just enjoy every minute of it."

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