Chris Wood, Wednesday 23 May 2012
From the moment she was discovered by British Cycling’s Talent Team, while a student at Nonsuch High School for Girls, Joanna Rowsell has been a leading light in British women’s sport. This year, alone, she has been part of the British Women’s Pursuit team which won gold at the World Championships in the newly-opened Olympic Park Velodrome in February and part of the same team which stole gold from under the noses of the Australians in the UCI Track Cycling World Championships in Melbourne in April. The team broke the World Record in both qualifying and in the final in Melbourne.
Q: How did it feel to beat the Aussies in their own backyard?
A: It was awesome to beat the Aussies on their home turf! However it was also great to beat the rest of the World. Women’s Team Pursuit isn’t just a two-horse race and we knew the top four teams could be really close, so for us it was great to come out on top again!
Q: Has it given you belief and self confidence going into the Olympics - or are you worried you might have peaked too early?
A: It has definitely given us a lot of confidence but we are all well aware there is still a lot of hard work to be done. I fully expect all the teams to be riding faster by the Olympics so we will definitely need to raise our game again.
Q: Is it competitive fighting for places in the Pursuit team? What does each individual bring to the team?
A: Yes we still have four girls (Joanna, Laura Trott, Dani King and Wendy Houvenaghel) going for three spots in the team. However, it will be possible for us to swap line-ups between the rides so that may be an option we consider. The four of us are all slightly different. My strengths tend to lie in the start, whereas other riders are better in the later laps. We are often trying out different lineups to see which is fastest and the final line up won’t be decided until the very last minute.
Q: Do you think your best has yet to come?
A: Yes, we definitely have more to come as a team! We are all training really hard and the World Championships was just a stepping stone along the way. It is exciting to see how far we can push the event forwards.
Q: You said your family has no tickets to the Olympics. Do you feel that all competitors should have been allocated some tickets?
A: I know that each competitor will be given the right to purchase two tickets for each session they compete in. So it will be up to me who I give these tickets to. It will be a difficult decision, as I would love my boyfriend, parents and brother to all be there. I think it is a shame the way the tickets have been allocated as I don’t actually know anybody at all with a ticket to the cycling. At the Olympic Test Event in February we had an awesome home crowd, very knowledgeable about cycling and the riders, who really got behind us. I am not sure this will be quite the same come the Olympics.
Q: Any message for local people/readers who have supported you?
A: I am always really grateful for any support locally. It really makes my day when I get an email through my website contact page or a tweet to give a message of support or congratulations. I do try to reply to them all. My new website - www.joannarowsell.com - has blogs and news updates on it, so look out for it!
Wallington-based David Weir, 32, is a double Paralympic gold medallist - and former member of Sutton’s Youth Games squad.
When David won the London Marathon men’s wheelchair race in April he equaled the record number of wins, held by Baroness Tanni Grey-Thompson. David would have been celebrating his seventh win if he hadn’t picked up a puncture in the 2010 race and lost a big lead.
In the 2008 Beijing Olympics David picked up two golds, a silver and a bronze – a medal in every race he competed in – in spite of the after-effects of glandular fever!
David was made Freeman of the London Borough of Sutton in 2009 – the first person to have been given the honour for 30 years - and he was appointed MBE in the 2009 New Year Honours.
David is doing more coaching now and has also been busy supporting local youngsters as they prepare for the London Youth Games, the capital’s biggest youth sports competition, this summer. The tournament culminates with a huge, Olympic-style finals weekend at Crystal Palace National Sports Centre on 30 June and 1 July.
The London Games will be David’s fourth Olympics.