Junior World Track Championships Moscow

John Paul | Tuesday 30th August, 2011

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Hi everyone,

Wow, what a month August has been, becoming Junior Men’s Sprint World Champion. After my success in Portugal at the European Championships I went to the Junior World Track Championships in Moscow on a high, we had a pre-training camp in Manchester a week before heading out to Moscow, training was going good and times were encouraging. We arrived in Moscow four days before the sprint competition and on the Monday I had my first go on the track which looked big and felt quick, the weather was fairly hot and humid. Lots of people were having dodgy stomachs by now, but I stuck to my pots of porridge oats, instant noodles and my favourite was the instant smash and plenty of cereal bars, I felt good all week, the only downside was no air conditioning in the room but I rigged up my Commonwealth Games hand held fan and with a big supply of batteries I overcame the heat.

Thursday came around very quickly and it was now the start of the sprint competition, 55 of the best juniors from around the world trying to qualify in the top 24 to progress through to the opening round, I qualified 5th quickest with 10.17s (a new British Record) the quickest qualifier was Max Niederlag from Germany with a new Junior World Record 9.89s, an unbelievable time.

I progressed through the 1st round comfortably against a French rider, in the 2nd round I faced the Spanish Champion coming through that safely to go into the quarter finals against an American, Matt Baranoski who had qualified 20th but won his 1st round ride to take the 4th seed spot, in the 1st ride I led out keeping the pace fairly slow until the bell lap, I started picking up the pace and holding him on my hip to take the first ride easy by a bike length. In the 2nd ride he led out and wound the pace up quickly early on, I waited until the back straight to attack and come round from behind but I misjudged his pace and couldn’t make it on the line losing by a few centimetres which meant a 3rd ride. In the 3rd ride I decided to take the front early on and pick the pace up coming round to the bell lap I noticed he was very high on the track and I had a nice big gap, about 20m so I decided to go for a long one and held him off easily to win by about 20m and book my slot in the semi finals the next day where I’d face the new junior world record holder from Germany, Max Niederlag which would turn out to be my hardest race of the year so far.

I felt a little bit nervous in the morning but I was looking forward to riding against Niederlag even though he was quickest in qualifying, I felt I could win as I’d beaten him two weeks ago 2-0 at the same stage, the semi-finals at the European Championships. In the 1st ride I drew one and led out keeping it steady until the bell lap, I picked the pace up and kept high to stop him coming over the top always ready to defend the inside, with 200m to go I accelerated and kept him on my hip to win by almost a bike length this settled me down and I knew that one more good ride and I’d be in the final. Ride 2 and he led out and upped the pace early on, I was patient and waited until about 250m to go and attacked coming alongside him in the back straight, as we went round turn 3 I got a little flick that checked my speed a bit and it went to a photo finish on the line, I lost by a couple of cm and now faced a 3rd ride, he adopted the same tactics in this ride and as I was coming round him in turn 3 he flicked me again and as we were coming out of turn 4 I was alongside and about to make my way past when he flicked me once more and came out of the sprinters lane blocking my progress, slowing me down and again it was a photo finish on the line, however, the commissaries were very quick in their decision and Niederlag was relegated for not holding his line and blocking the oncoming rider, I was in the final and it felt great, I was guaranteed at least a Silver medal.

In the final I was up against Julien Palma from France who had beaten the Russian champion 2-1, I drew one for the 1st ride and decided to lead it out holding him on my hip and pinning him high to win by a clear bike length, this gave me loads of confidence for the 2nd ride and I knew that if I did the same as the 1st ride I’d be World Champion, Palma led out and I took the front early and repeated the 1st ride winning by a bike length and just couldn’t quite believe that I was now the Junior World Champion, what a feeling it was, I was (pardon the cliché) on top of the world and so proud on the podium in my ‘Rainbow Jersey’.

I’d like to thank all those who believed in me and gave me support, too many to name, but my family and friends, the Braveheart fund, Paragon and particularly Agmatek Engineering Ltd who have been brilliant over the past 4 years, so thanks to Gerry, Andrew and Magnie. Also, thanks to my coach and to all those who sent me messages, it really helps when you know so many people follow and support you. Cheers, JP


The Portland Arms


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