Wales wing George North driven on by his cycling queen Becky James
Wales wing inspired by the record-breaking exploits of his girlfriend at world championships
Tuesday 26 February 2013
George North has been teased by teammates following his girlfriend Becky James's record haul at the Track Cycling World Championships – but he insists it will only drive him to success. The Wales wing and the cycling queen are fast becoming the golden couple of British sport.
James took four medals including two golds at the world championships in Minsk to put her rugby-playing boyfriend, currently playing in the Six Nations, in the shadows.
North, 20, kept a close eye on Belarus via television coverage and internet streams whenever he could between the preparations for and celebrations after Wales's 26-9 victory in Italy.
North's Wales colleagues claim he is the lesser athlete in the relationship, but he insists that will only inspire him. He said: "It was awesome. I watched some of it live in between training and the Italy game. It was pretty hard to keep up, with the time difference and then the build-up to the match and all the boys on the internet slowing the feed down!
"Becky works so hard, focuses on herself, and went there with confidence and it showed. I've had more banter from the boys than from her. They're giving me the standard stuff and Ryan Jones tweeted saying I'm the second-best athlete [in the relationship].
"At the moment she's probably the best known of us and it's just deserts – the first British athlete to get four medals at the world championships. It's a massive achievement.
"If you look at any elite sport, athletes bounce off each other. She is doing really well at the moment and hopefully I can keep up my end of the bargain in the Six Nations."
It is something 21-year-old James clearly agrees with and she believes the shared support and understanding is integral to their individual success. She says North's match-winning try in the victory over France – where the wing's father David raced on to the pitch – helped fire her to glory.
James added: "It's great because we go through the same things. If I'm stressed out with cycling I know he has gone through the same thing in rugby, so we can talk about it and forget it. It makes it so much easier.
"We definitely bounce off each other and drive each other on. When I see him score a try, that just makes me want to perform and I'm sure it's the same for George. But it's the same for me and I was luckily sitting by the BBC guys and they were keeping me up to date with the rugby scores. I have a couple of weeks off now and I'm just looking forward to being able to relax and support him in the Six Nations."
James has already been dubbed the new Victoria Pendleton but North says she will handle the pressure.
"I don't think it's a celebratory status. It's different, it's massive sport," he said. "It's obviously huge for Becky but she's a level-headed girl. Since I met her she has never changed and I don't think she ever will.
"That has been shown in her mental preparation to get where she has with an incredible achievement."
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