Team sprinters Jess Varnish and Katy Marchant finished fifth at the Track World Championships in London, failing to qualify for a place at the Rio Olympics

Team sprinters Jess Varnish and Katy Marchant vented their frustration at British Cycling’s leadership, after GB’s desperate attempt to qualify a squad for the event at this summer’s Rio Olympics ended at the London Track World Championships today.

The duo finished in fifth place, posting a credible time of 32.820, but they failed to finish two positions ahead of France in today’s qualifying round to leapfrog their rivals and qualify for Rio.

Only five European nations can compete in the discipline at the Games; GB sat sixth in the EU nation ranking at the start of the day, with today’s race the last opportunity to score points.

The squad were chasing their tail throughout the two-year qualification cycle, and were forced to send full-strength squads to this winter’s Track World Cup events in New Zealand and Hong Kong in an attempt to score the required points.

“There’s been no real plan, it’s been like you might do this here, you might do it here,” Varnish said. “I feel sick – I think Katy would agree on this, we put our lives on the line for this and we give it absolutely everything.”

Marchant added: “We’re in this position through decisions of other people not through any fault of our own,” said 22-year-old Marchant. “Me and Jess have given everything, done everything we’ve been asked of, gone beyond what we needed to do really. So to be fifth in the world and not riding at the Olympics – got no words really.”

Varnish, who missed out on contesting the gold medal final in London 2012 after the GB team were disqualified from the heats for an illegal change, singled out team selection as a root of their problems.

In 2014, Rosie Blount — who has now left to BC Programme to study medicine — was paired with Varnish at the European Track Championships, while Danni Khan and Marchant rode at the Track World Cup round in Guadeloupe. Khan has now switched to the endurance squad.

“You’ve got people who are sort of they’re not even on the programme now who actually started the Olympic qualification for us as a team,” added Varnish.

Iain Dyer, BC’s coach co-ordinator, said the federation would not change anything from the qualification campaign. “Every step of the way we’ve done our absolute best to put the best team out there and in the best possible shape,” he said.

“I think when we look back on our two year qualifying period I honestly don’t think we’d consider there would be much that we would change about that.

“Obviously some of our team selections have been forced upon us. No one would have wished Becky [James, who missed most of the qualifying period with knee and shoulder injuries] to be out and it’s great to see that she’s coming back and finding her form again, but it did deprive us of a double world champion from 2013 going into the 2014 beginning of the qualifying period, which was a shame.”

Varnish, Marchant and James (unused today in London, but who watched her team-mates on from track centre) will now turn their attentions to Britain’s two places for the individual sprint, and one for the keirin in Rio.

Asked if this summer’s Games could be her last, Varnish added: “I’m a 25-year-old athlete now, even though I’m still young I’ve been around for a long time and you think should I keep putting my lives in these people’s hands, because it’s my life, I only live once is it going to be worth it?

“How many more times can I keep putting my life on hold making these choices for my career if it’s not going to pay off through no fault of our own [sic]?”

  • ummm…

    The A Team placed 5th. Maybe that is why coaching had decided to look towards developing the squad or giving others a chance. Varnish herself said this a few days ago: “Obviously things haven’t gone perfectly, when we’ve been put out in different teams, they’ve always been trying different combinations rather than just committing to one thing – I can totally see why they’ve done that.”


    If they placed above France by enough places, or if they showed some promise by not placing 5th, then they still had their fate in their hands. Chew on some of my points and Varnish’s own words and then we can have a discussion.

  • richcyclo

    And I agree its not that simple.
    But if someone has the strength of character and the will that others before her have had then they can come again.
    Just showing some class off the bike as well as on it would help.
    That’s all folks!

  • richcyclo

    I understand what you are saying about the qualification period and how team GB have approached it but its a method that has proven itself over the years.
    Protecting riders from long travel times to some difficult venues allows riders to spend as much time as possible in the controlled environment of BC doing their training blocks and concentrating on their marginal gains. This has always been part of the plan, giving others experience at this level while picking up points.
    I appreciate this has cut it fine at times but I don’t remember Hoy, or Pendleton jetting off to every WC event and I believe its also true that Varnish has not been fit for periods during 2015 anyway?

  • Again you don’t understand anything about this so please read up on the system used for Olympic qualifying then come back and tell us how you can win when others are sent to race.

  • No not that simple at all.

  • It wasn’t that simple, this was part of a league which started in 2014 and British Cycling sent other less qualified riders to some races so GB did not pick up points at those races. These girls are clearly fast enough being 5th fastest yet it was the way Team GB management dealt with previous rounds that cost them the Olympic place which in the long run hurts everybody in Team GB when the next funding review comes round. So I’d blame poor management not the riders.

  • ummm…

    reread the comment? It was one sentence! I’m with rich – your bottom is really burned by this and I can’t understand why. These women didn’t cut it. They can’t go around blaming others. They were on the bike. They were training. THEY WIN THE MEDALS! Their response is unprofessional and pathetic. They were honored by the brit taxpayer to fill that role, and didn’t cut it. Now, it is everyones fault but their own? I would have been proud of them for working as hard as they did, until they started blaming their failure on everyone else. Get a grip.

  • NitroFan

    There are people far better qualified to advise on cyclists achievement I listen to them for informed comment.

  • richcyclo

    Well, yet again you have jumped to the wrong conclusion because I have nothing to justify. keep up to date with what’s going on and you will find that my comments are accurate.
    I will let you have the last word as you seem to enjoy insulting people from behind your key board.

  • NitroFan

    In the light of your reply I re read your post, and I do not need to be a smug twit to reply to an ill considered post that you are now embarrassed about and attempting to justify.

  • richcyclo

    I’m not going to get into a slanging match with you but your nasty comments about me (who you don’t know)
    tells me all I need to know about you.
    As for the athletes, I’m sure they have done their best and their past shows them to be worthy champions but don’t embarrass yourself moaning about others when things have not gone as you hoped for.
    Plenty of great examples of how to handle defeat in their own team.
    I don’t have to be a World champ to comment but if you want to show me your medals I’ll show you mine!

  • NitroFan

    Sounds like a smug twit who has never been good enough to fail at that level.

  • Richard Sheils

    Sounds like the athletes can’t accept they were either not fit enough or not good enough, simple!

  • Rob Nelson

    Ride faster. That’s racing.