The route to Olympic glory begins at the European Track Championships in Poland this weekend and while the focus of attention will no doubt be on Sir Chris Hoy and Victoria Pendleton, keen eyed cycling fans will notice an unfamiliar face in the British team.
Joining Olympic silver medalist Wendy Houvenaghel, Katie Colclough and Laura Trott in the women’s team pursuit squad will be newcomer Claire Galloway.
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While Galloway will be a reserve in Pruszkow it has been a meteoric rise for the 23-year-old who only took up cycling in November last year to recover from a back injury.
Galloway, a fourth year medical student at Oxford University, was talent spotted by former pro Flavio Zappi when she was out riding for Oxford City Road Club and was soon fast tracked into the GB track programme.
After lining up against the likes of Nicole Cooke and Emma Pooley at the national road race championships, she then spent the summer gaining race experience in Belgium and Holland to hone her bike skills.
Now under the expert tutelage of Beijing gold medallist and women’s track coach Paul Manning, Galloway has taken a break from her studies to concentrate on her dream of riding at the Olympics. This weekend’s championships will be her first taste of major international competition.
Despite her stellar rise, Galloway just has to look around to know that she will face intense competition to be selected in the final trio for London 2012. Aside from the current line up, Beijing individual pursuit champion Rebecca Romero has also turned her attention to the team pursuit now that her individual event has been culled from the Olympic programme.
But this won’t deter an athlete who has some serious sporting pedigree. The Saudi Arabian born medic represented Great Britain in fencing during her teens and rowed against Cambridge in the varsity boat race during her second year at university.
So while Rio de Janeiro 2016 may be the more realistic long term goal, it will be interesting to follow Galloway’s progress over the next few years.