Rio Olympics 2016: Ex-GB chief Sutton believed in me, says Becky James

Becky James

Becky James won keirin and sprint gold at the 2013 Track Cycling World Championships in Minsk

Double Olympic silver medallist Becky James says former British Cycling technical director Shane Sutton played a big part in her success at Rio 2016.

James, 24, earned keirin and sprint silver in Rio after recovering from injury and illness.

Sutton stepped down in April and is the subject of an independent review into allegations of sexism and bullying, which he denies.

“He said he believed in me,” James said of the Australian.

“Around Christmas time, he told me he believed I could get to the Olympics and reckoned I could win a medal.

“Back then I couldn’t believe I would, especially going into the Hong Kong World Cup and being knocked in first round of the sprint.

“But I kept my head down and kept training hard and the results started coming.”


Australian Shane Sutton won Commonwealth Games gold as a rider

‘I couldn’t deal with the stress’

James missed out on the Olympics four years ago after a season wrecked by injury and illness but came back to win two world titles in 2013.

She overcame a cancer scare and a career-threatening knee injury but admits she came close to quitting the sport.

“There were points where I wanted to quit and I couldn’t deal with the stress and the emotion that I was going through,” she said.

“But looking back now, it was all worth going through for this.

“It’s all been about Rio and getting to the Olympics – and this last year especially, it’s just been getting my fitness back and getting back to a really good standard.

“I feel so relieved that I’m back to my old self and back to some really good form.”

Two medals ‘unexpected’

Having secured her place in Rio, James claimed silver in the keirin before finishing second to Germany’s Kristina Vogel in the women’s sprint.

“It doesn’t seem real but having these two medals around my neck is a nice way to finish the Olympics,” James told BBC Wales Sport.

“It’s been a tough journey and maybe even five months ago if someone said I’d be going to the Olympics, I would probably have said no.

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GB’s James and Marchant win silver and bronze in sprint

“To come away with two medals is unexpected. Obviously I had targets and I wanted to win a medal, especially in the keirin.

“You never know what’s going to happen in the keirin race. It’s not necessarily the fastest rider that wins, it’s the tactical element.

“Going into the sprint and getting the Olympic record was very unexpected but I’m over the moon with that.

“I knew I had good legs. It was just believing in my ability, my form and my race tactics. So I just took them race by race and got another silver medal.”

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