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Joanna Rowsell became only the fourth British woman to be crowned world pursuit champion when she won the title in Cali, Colombia in the spring. She followed five-time winner Beryl Burton (1959-66), Yvonne McGregor (2000) and Rebecca Romero (2008) into the record books.
Not only that but Rowsell beat the American who has dominated women’s pursuiting for the best part of the past decade. Sarah Hammer, who won the first of her five titles in 2006, was the fastest qualifier in Cali, with Rowsell clinching her place in the gold medal ride by less than three-tenths of a second, ahead of Amy Cure.
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The final was a victory for Rowsell’s recovery powers and endurance as she improved on her qualification time while Hammer slipped backwards under pressure. Having become a world champion in the team pursuit in 2008, at the age of just 19, it has been Rowsell’s goal to win the individual title ever since.
Her ride in Cali was a personal best and it earned her some much-deserved solo recognition. However, it was the team pursuit that had been Rowsell’s initial priority and the event she had trained for. Rowsell was part of the line-up that won gold, stretching Great Britain’s run to six wins in seven years since the event was introduced at the 2008 Worlds. It was the fourth time Rowsell had featured in the British gold-medal winning line-up, too.
At the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow, Rowsell won the individual pursuit, lowering her personal best to 3-29.038 — the first time she’d broken 3-30 in competition. That set up a final against Australia’s Annette Edmondson, which turned out to be a lot easier than the qualifying times suggested. The pair had been split by only 1.7 seconds in qualifying but Rowsell’s winning margin was decisive in the final.
As the new track season got under way, Rowsell was part of the Wiggle-Honda team that won the national team pursuit title and then she helped the Great Britain squad to another European Championships victory in Guadeloupe.
That makes Rowsell a reigning Olympic, World, Commonwealth, European and national champion. Shane Sutton wondered why Rowsell’s name was not on the list of candidates for the BBC’s Sports Personality of the Year and you have to say, he has a point.