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Elinor Barker: I almost gave up cycling at 14

Elinor Barker: I almost gave up cycling at 14
By PA Sport

17/04/2017 at 21:14

Elinor Barker contemplated quitting as a 14-year-old before seeing the bigger picture and the trajectory of other Maindy Flyers.

Now 22, the Cardiff racer was one of four Olympic champions in Great Britain's 19-rider squad for the Track Cycling World Championships in Hong Kong, where she won three medals, culminating in points race gold on Sunday's final day.

Together with Katie Archibald, the omnium champion, the void created by the absence of four-time Olympic champion Laura Kenny was filled.

Barker is a prodigious talent, having won the road world time-trial title in 2012 before transferring her focus to the track.

She won team pursuit world titles in 2013 and 2014 before Olympic gold in Rio last August.

Like Team Sky trio Geraint Thomas, Luke Rowe and Owain Doull, plus former world and Olympic road race champion Nicole Cooke, Barker emerged from the Maindy Flyers Youth Cycling club in Cardiff, which is for five to 16-year-olds.

"I certainly never thought there was a ceiling on how I could do, based on the kind of people that went through Maindy Flyers and the kind of success they had," Barker said.

"Geraint, Luke, Nicole, Owain and all those other various people that are doing so well, I never thought it would be out of my reach.

"They had the same coaches and the same experiences, so why not? I suppose.

" There were a couple of years when I thought about quitting, that typical... I got to age 14 and thought, 'Do I want to be doing this? Or would I rather be going out and experiencing what it's like to be 14, rather than being dressed in Lycra'."

Barker credits the decision to continue to volunteer Alan Davies.

She added: "He just made it so much more fun and so much more enjoyable than I thought it would be. I think if I hadn't been at Maindy Flyers or a similar level team, then, no, I wouldn't be here."

Sunday was the fourth time Barker had become world champion, but the first occasion she feels individually the best in the world.

"As a junior it's only a gap of two years. You're the best in the world at that age," she said.

"Whereas at an event like this you are the best in the world that year, period. It's definitely a bigger feeling.

"But being junior world champion was the first time I'd experienced anything like that. It's huge.

"It felt a bit different. It felt very new and I felt quite shy about expressing it when I was younger because I didn't know anyone that was world champion.

"I feel a bit more comfortable in it this time."

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