London Eye: World champion hot to Trott in pursuit of double gold
Briton who was born with a collapsed lung vomits after every race but is not nervous about the Games
Friday 13 April 2012
"I feel fine," says Laura Trott. "The jet lag's not hit yet." She has only been back in the country for a day, barely long enough to unpack the bags in which are folded two jerseys bearing the distinctive rainbow stripes of a world champion.
"The team pursuit I thought we had a chance of winning," says Trott of last week's world championships in Melbourne, where she took two gold medals in three days. "Breaking the world record again – fine, that would have been more than enough. To win the omnium as well was overwhelming. It's the best thing that's happened to me – being double world champion. And it being an Olympic year as well. Pretty crazy!"
Pretty crazy is an expression Trott uses regularly, perhaps because it seems the most appropriate way to sum up the last year, if not her entire 19 years. Trott is the bright young thing of British cycling, the latest bike off what has been the most impressive production line in British sport over the last decade. She is next in line to Victoria Pendleton and Co, who have made this country the pre-eminent force in track cycling. So rapid has been the prodigy's progress that she, rather than, say, Sir Chris Hoy, is now seen as Britain's best hope of double gold in the velodrome in August.
Trott is part of the team pursuit – with Dani King and Jo Rowsell – who broke the world record twice in Melbourne, and goes on her own in the omnium, the six-race event that makes its Olympic debut in London.
Like her event, Trott will be a first-timer in London and it is cycling's good fortune that she has found her way there on two wheels. Given the choice, she might have been preparing for the Games as a trampolinist. "I enjoyed it more than cycling," she says of her first sporting passion. She was approaching international standard when one day she went up and couldn't remember coming down. She fainted mid leap. "I was learning how to do a double back – two back somersaults – and as I went up I didn't have a clue what happened. My coach said I came down like a sack of potatoes." Her club said "enough" and the track took over. "If that hadn't happened, I wouldn't be here."
Trott was born prematurely, with a collapsed lung, and her parents were encouraged to get her into sport as she grew up, to help correct the damage. That and her mother's desire to lose weight took the family – her sister, Emma, is a road racer based in Belgium – to Welwyn Garden City for a try-out at the nearest track.
"It's a random story but that was that. I loved it," she says.
There is another physical quirk that still nags Trott. After every race she throws up, because of high acidity levels in her stomach. At the Commonwealth Games she was caught on the big screen, being sick into a bucket. At the London World Cup this year she had to walk away from a BBC interview.
Trott is slight, her frame giving no indication of the speed and power she possesses. But her ability was always apparent to British cycling (she's coached by the Olympic gold winner Paul Manning). In late 2008 she began training alongside the big guns, Pendleton et al. "I was scared going into my first session. I was like 'Oh, my god. They're not going to talk to me.' But it's one big happy family."
It was not, though, a straightforward move. Trott switched from home in Hertfordshire – the Olympic Park is her "back garden" – to Manchester two years ago. "I set the oven on fire the second day, trying to cook a jacket potato. I hated it and wanted to go home." But the "happy family" took a grip, and now the cooking is under control – speciality shepherd's pie – the elders are passing on advice on how to deal with the Games. "Treat it as another bike race. Because that's what it is. It's no different from the worlds – I'm going to race the same girls and my team-mates are the same."
That is easy to say, but that's the striking quality about the effervescent Trott; she has treated everything so far as another bike race. And it works.
"I do this every day. I don't get that nervous. People don't make me nervous either. When I went to my first World Cup I was like, 'Wow, all these big names.' But then I thought, 'Hang on, why should I give them any more respect? I'm here. I've earned this.'"
The dynamics have since changed, even more so in the last week. Now she's the one the rest look out for. "Everyone says, 'It's yours to lose.' But it's not, is it?" Does she think about winning gold? "Oh yeah, I'd love to win gold. It would be massive – just to win one. I've been using these events as stepping stones to London. I'm really excited, it's going to be my first Olympics, which is pretty crazy because I never thought I'd go to 2012. At 20 [her birthday is in two weeks] it is young to go to an Olympics – most are 24 or older. It's pretty crazy."
Laura Trott is representing Samsung at Gadget Show Live 2012. For more information, visit www.samsung.com
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Today South African track and field championships in Port Elizabeth. Oscar Pistorius and Caster Semenya are present.
Tomorrow Dwain Chambers and Usain Bolt are expected to be in rival 4x100m teams in the UTech Classic meeting in Kingston, Jamaica. World champion Yohan Blake is due to line up in the 100m.
Sunday Paula Radcliffe starts her season in the Vienna Half Marathon. She will get a head start on Ethiopian evergreen Haile Gebrselassie in a special catch-me-if-you-can contest.
Monday Kenyan Geoffrey Mutai defends his Boston Marathon title.
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Richard Kilty The Teesside sprinter, coached by Linford Christie, was in fine early-season form at Tempe in the United States, winning the 100m in 10.23sec and the 200m in 20.50sec, both personal bests.
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