EMILY KAY’s breakthrough senior campaign on the track last season becomes even more impressive when you consider that she did most of it nursing a back problem.
But now fully fit and firing on all cylinders, the 22-year-old from Bromsgrove is setting her sights even higher this time around – starting with the European Championships in Germany which starts today (Wednesday) and finish on Sunday.
Kay – a 2013 Junior World Champion – is part of the women’s endurance team heading to Berlin.
There she will be hoping to turn her bronze in the team pursuit last year into something even brighter – to go with the double gold she went on to secure at the World Cup event in Glasgow.
“I had a pretty difficult winter with a lot of injury that put me on the backfoot for a bit,” she said.
“I had to step away for a bit and work quite hard, so physically I am a different bike rider, but I learned a lot more.
“I had an injury in my back, so I had to have some medical attention and be in the gym and strengthen it up to get in the positions I need for racing.
“I have done a lot of gym work behind the scenes, and it definitely shows, I am stronger and can hold a position better, I am injury free.
“Last year, I had the injury around Christmas time so when I got to worlds I was probably not in the position I would have liked to have been so this time around it will be good to have had a long time injury free and see what I can do fit and healthy, and see what I can give to a team pursuit.”
After a spell this summer on the road, the Europeans mark the first major event of the track season for Kay in a squad that includes Olympic and world champions Elinor Barker and Katie Archibald.
And with Jo Rowsell Shand now retired and Laura Kenny taking a break from the sport following the birth of her first son, Kay is itching to prove her worth.
“I am in a good place and I think the team is as well, it is quite a long track season, you don’t want to be on top form right now,” she added.
“But I think we are all quite happy with where we are and the performances that we could put in.
“Two years out from Rio, most squads were pretty set in stone and putting in work to go there.
“But after the Olympics that opens up, people do step away, or retire, take time out, and it opens the door for other people to have an opportunity.
“That meant last year we could race Europeans and World Cups and it is the same for other nations, you get to see new riders which makes for an interesting couple of years.
“Team pursuit wise Katie and Elinor know a lot, to have them in the team is great to ride with.
“But they are both great bunch racers as well so to train with them means we are always learning and getting new experiences.”
On November 10-12, riders like Kay will compete on the Manchester Velodrome in one of the most anticipated events on the track cycling calendar.
Buy tickets from http://www.trackworldcup.co.uk/tickets/.