Laura Trott is a true phenomenon. This season, at the age of just 20, she collected her second and third world titles and won two Olympic gold medals, capturing the hearts of the British public in the process.
We’ve become so used to sportspeople suffering for their art that Trott’s demeanour is a breath of fresh air. It’s impossible to coach people to appear so relaxed, friendly and natural in front of the television cameras but at the Olympics she made herself an instant favourite.
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With two Olympic gold medals to her name already, it was perhaps not a surprise to hear Sir Chris Hoy suggest that Trott could go on to become Britain’s most successful Olympian. After all, she should have another three Games in her.
Trott had already established herself in the team pursuit squad before the start of the year but British Cycling struck gold when they replaced Wendy Houvenaghel with Dani King at the London World Cup in February.
Suddenly everything just clicked. The trio broke the world record and went on to get faster and faster throughout the year. They won the world title in Melbourne, then went to London where the result never really looked in doubt.
But it is when racing in the omnium that Trott has an almost unique ability to lift the roof off a British velodrome. Or more specifically, it is in the elimination race, a discipline that appears to
be made for her.
The elimination is an event that appeals to the most basic racing instinct and she is brilliant at it. Like so many things that look effortless, a lot of work goes into making victory appear so easy.
She ducks, dives, holds off and surges forward at just the right time and in the process can have a partisan velodrome eating out of the palm of her hand. She did that three times this year – at the London World Cup, at the Olympic Games and again at the Glasgow World Cup in November. She also won the elimination on her way to a gold medal at the World Championships in Melbourne.
The media latched onto her personality, the fact that she is often sick with nerves and anticipation before a big race, and noted the drive beneath the smile and sunny disposition.
The true greats in sport are those that handle adversity well. Trott hasn’t had to cope with much disappointment in her short career so far but when she has been beaten, she does not mope or complain, she simple resolves to do better next time.
After the post-Olympic parties and all the other PR rounds, Trott was determined to race at the World Cup in Glasgow because, she said, she didn’t want to miss out on the chance to wear the rainbow stripes on home soil. She ended up winning both the team pursuit and omnium there too.
“I’m so tired,” she said. “I don’t even know what I’m doing here. It’s so hard coming back from the Olympics and having to get your head around racing again. I’m not fit – I’m not going to lie. But to compete in your home World Cup, I just wanted to do it and to say thanks.”
Team pursuit timeline: Record breakers
Before the World Cup in London in February, the world record for the women’s team pursuit was held by the United States. They had set a time of 3-19.569 in Mexico in May 2010.
For the final of the World Cup, Dani King replaced Wendy Houvenaghel and the British trio did not look back. They went on to break the world record every time they stepped on the track right up to the Olympic final.
February 17 London, World Cup final 3-18.148
April 5 Melbourne, World Championships qualifying 3-16.850
April 5 Melbourne, World Championships final 3-15.720
August 3 London, Olympic Games qualifying 3-15.669
August 4 London, Olympic Games round one 3-14.682
August 4 London, Olympic Games final 3-14.051
British Riders of 2012
Number 1 – Bradley Wiggins
Number 2 – Laura Trott
Number 3 – Sir Chris Hoy
Numbers 6-4 – Jonathan Tiernan-Locke, Jason Kenny and Chris Froome
Numbers 10-7 – Sarah Storey, Ed Clancy, Mark Cavendish, Victoria Pendleton
Numbers 12-11 – Lizzie Armitstead and Geraint Thomas
Numbers 14-13 – Joanna Rowsell and Dani King
Numbers 16-15 – Philip Hindes and Elinor Barker
Numbers 18-17 – Steven Burke and Peter Kennaugh
Numbers 20-19 – David Millar and Lucy Garner
Numbers 22-12 – Steve Cummings and Ben Swift
Numbers 24-23 – Ian Stannard and Helen Wyman
Numbers 26-25 – Annie Last and Scott Thwaites
Numbers 28-27 – Mark Colbourne and Alex Dowsett
Numbers 32-29 – Sharon Laws, Liam Killeen, Neil Fachie, Rachel Atherton
Number 33 – David Stone
Number 34 – Emma Pooley
Numbers 36-35 – Nikki Harris and Russell Downing
Numbers 38-37 – Anthony Kappes and Andy Fenn
Numbers 40-39 – Josh Edmondson and Matt Bottrill
Numbers 42-41 – Luke Rowe and Michael Hutchinson
Numbers 44-43 – Sam Lowe and Jon Dibben
Numbers 46-45 – Rebecca James and Jessica Varnish
Numbers 50-47 – Alex Peters, Kristian House, Richard Handley and Wendy Houvenaghel