Belfast Telegraph

Wendy wants cycling Olympic gold more than ever

It is a situation Wendy Houvenaghel isn’t used to finding herself in.

Standing anywhere but on top of the podium in the 3km team pursuit is a rare occurrence for Houvenaghel, Lizzie Armitstead and Joanna Rowsell but last night in the Ballerup Super Arena in Copenhagen the Great Britain trio had no answer to the flying Aussies in the final.

Another silver medal.

But while the Upperlands rider was philosophical about the second place in the individual event on Wednesday there was no hiding the disappointment of this defeat.

The British girls were the defending champions and Houvenaghel and Rowsell were going for their third world title in a row — last autumn they smashed the world record.

They were, literally, unbeatable on the big stage.

As if to rub salt in their wounds, as they sat waiting for the final, New Zealand took their world record while winning the bronze medal.

This defeat was a shock coupled with disbelief — even the victorious Australians couldn’t quite believe it — and afterwards words were hard to find.

“Yes definitely there is more disappointment than the individual.

“I think the standard is going up and that’s what we expected but it just means that we need to pay more attention to our preparation and training.

“It needs, obviously, a little more attention than what we’ve been allocating to it,” explained Houvenaghel.

“The bar is being raised, that’s for sure, and this competition has proved that.”

In the 12 months since the last world championships in Poland the Olympic programme has been overhauled with the team pursuit taking the place of the individual.

While only a few countries had the strength in depth to produce three riders of world class standard for an event that didn’t appear every four years at the biggest championship, not everyone took it seriously.

Great Britain were one of the exceptions and so they have dominated in recent years.

Now there is Olympic gold to be fought for in London in just over two years.

“A result like this is definitely a wake-up call and we need to address the situation, little subtle changes in certain areas to make it work.

“We can go faster, we’ve been faster before so there is plenty to work on,” said Houvenaghel.

Looking back on the silver medals after four gruelling races in two days she was disappointed but not downhearted.

“I proved again how consistent I am in the pursuit so the competition has gone fine.

“I think I’m where I need to be two years out from the Olympics, it’s certainly not a disaster but there have definitely been some areas highlighted that I need to look at and as a team we need to address,” she said.

The major championships aren’t over for Houvenaghel this year as she hopes to represent Northern Ireland in the Commonwealth Games in Delhi in October in the individual pursuit.

“I’ll go home now and have a little break and then set out the goals for the next 12 months taking into account the Commonwealth Games.”

London 2012 still seems a long way away but for Houvenaghel and her team mates they are already focused in on that long term goal.

The next world championships are in the Netherlands where it’s expected her focus will be entirely on the team pursuit to make sure what happened last night was merely a blip on the road to the ultimate prize in 2012.

Belfast Telegraph

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