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Cycling - 31. January 2012.

Catching up with GB Cylist Jo Rowsell


Joanna Rowsell:
In Beijing, women didn’t really get the opportunity to shine, in
London we can put that right


Have a think about the success stories team GB enjoyed at the Beijing Olympics four years ago and most likely cycling will be in the top five list. Chris Hoys thighs alone warranted a knighthood never mind the effort of blood, sweat and tears that drained from his teammates around him. Look beyond the lycra for a minute if you can and notice that there were only three
events for the women to compete in as opposed to seven for the men. Given this
unbalance, the women on the team were always going to be fighting a losing
battle to get their fair share of the limelight – London 2012 is going to be a
different story.

Joanna Rowsell has just returned from a
training block in Majorca and although the weather was lovely and the skies
blue, she didn’t have much else to report on that didn’t involve cycling

“You’re not there to see the sights, you’re
going there get on with things….you don’t get a lot of opportunity to go out
and explore”

This is because, with six months to go
until the home Games begin, the whole of team GB is unwaveringly dedicated
towards one goal,

“Things got a lot more focused around 2010 around the time when Olympic qualification started so the end of 2010, the beginning of 2011. Since then things have really stepped up a gear because
every race we enter is all about making Olympic qualification”

Rowsell is aiming to compete in the Team
Pursuit, a race that will be included in the Olympics for the first time having
made its debut at the World Championships in 2008. Many changes have been made to the schedule since Beijing in order to redress the balance between men and women’s competition, this year each will have five events to capitalize in giving females a fairer shot of reaching the optimum level in their sport,

“Women didn’t really get the chance to
shine (in Beijing) as much as the men because there simply wasn’t enough events so a lot of coverage was given but you can’t compete with the men when you haven’t got the events to compete in.

“In London I think people will look at the
GB cycling team rather than the men or the women but now the women have equal events, with individuals that could potentially win up to three gold medals, I
think that would gain loads of publicity and media attention that’s probably
equal with what the men get”

The call for equality shouldn’t need to
justified but be clear that this isn’t a vanity mission, Rowsell and her female
colleagues aren’t exasperated because they don’t get their picture taken
enough, they want greater knowledge, acceptance and appreciation for their
event, not for personal gratification.

“We are always raising our game, looking at what training we are doing and trying out new training methods to try and keep
one step ahead of the rest of the world. Just thinking about my event, the rest
of the world is catching up, it’s a lot tighter now and I think that’s good for
the event and it’s good for women’s sport in general for it to be a bit more
competitive rather than one nation
win it easily. We’ve had to really fight to win our last few competitions so
that’s really good.”

The Olympic test event takes place next
month then it’s off to Melbourne, Australia for the World Championships. Both
competitions will tell riders how they compare to their closest rivals and if
Rowsell and company can deliver what they know they are capable of, come August, London won’t be able to get enough of the athletes of the team pursuit,

“We’re going there to win, we don’t want
silver, we’re going there to get gold

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