ON TOP OF THE WORLD

Yorkshire Post - Sports Monday - - FRONT PAGE - MATT MCGEE­HAN

Bri­tain’s Eli­nor Barker sheds her ‘brides­maid’ tag and cel­e­brates af­ter win­ning the women’s points race to strike gold on the fi­nal day of the World Track Cy­cling Championships in Hong Kong.

ELI­NOR BARKER shed her brides­maid tag to win Track World Championships gold in Hong Kong.

Af­ter claim­ing her sec­ond sil­ver medal of the week in the Madi­son with Emily Nel­son on Satur­day, the 22-year-old Cardiff racer was given a solo fo­cus here and de­liv­ered gold at the fi­nal at­tempt.

Bri­tain fin­ished the five-day event with five medals, two of them gold, and joint fourth on the medal ta­ble with Ger­many. Aus­tralia led the way with three golds and 11 medals in all.

Barker em­u­lated fel­low team pur­suit Olympic cham­pion Katie Archibald’s om­nium win on Fri­day.

Asked if the old phrase still ap­plied, she said: “No! At least I didn’t get third.

“I’ve come so close so many times. I feel like I’m a con­stant bunch race brides­maid.”

It was touch and go in the 100lap (25km) points race.

Sarah Ham­mer, of the United States, made an au­da­cious solo at­tack to take a sec­ond lap of the field and Barker wrested the ini­tia­tive from the even­tual run­ner-up with time run­ning out.

She fin­ished with 59 points, eight clear of Ham­mer, while Kirsten Wild, of Hol­land, took bronze.

“It was aw­ful to ride. Ab­so­lutely hor­ri­ble,” said Barker.

“I was so ner­vous. I was sickly ner­vous. I was se­ri­ously run­ning out of laps (to catch Ham­mer). I think it was six to go and my coach (Chris New­ton) just shouted ‘sprint’ which I think was the only thing I could do.

“If I didn’t sprint I was never go­ing to get there. It was just about try­ing to get to Ham­mer.”

It was a first in­di­vid­ual se­nior world ti­tle for Barker, ju­nior road time-trial world cham­pion in 2012, who pre­vi­ously won team pur­suit gold in 2013 and 2014. She also fin­ished sec­ond to her team pur­suit team-mate Laura Kenny in the points race at the 2014 Com­mon­wealth Games in Glas­gow.

Four-time Olympic cham­pion Kenny was ab­sent here, preg­nant with her first child with six-time Olympic gold medal­list Ja­son Kenny.

Barker re­ferred to “years and years of mis­takes” in bunch races, yet she has fo­cused on team pur­suit for the last four years, as she ref­er­enced the suc­cesses of Kenny, 25 this month.

“I am still 22 but con­sid­er­ing the coun­try I am from and the cal­i­bre and age of the girls who suc­ceed in Great Bri­tain, 22 seems a bit old re­ally. I prob­a­bly need to start plan­ning for re­tire­ment and ba­bies and that.”

Barker is plan­ning to put her hand up for se­lec­tion for the om­nium in Tokyo, where Kenny (nee Trott) could seek a third suc­ces­sive ti­tle.

PIC­TURE: KIN CHE­UNG

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