NORTH YORKSHIRE’s rising cycling star Abi Smith got a taste of the big time when she rode against Olympic legends in the National Track Championships in Manchester last weekend.
Smith finished 20th in the points race and 25th in the scratch event, competing against Olympians including Katie Archibald, Laura Kenny and Elinor Barker.
The 16-year-old Ripon Grammar School sixth form pupil, who is studying PE, psychology, biology and geography at AS level, was selected for the British Cycling junior academy last year and admitted to being thrilled to ride in such illustrious company.
“I was pretty star-struck, to be honest,” said the teenager, who is from Oswaldkirk, near Helmsley.
“It was so surreal being one of the competitors, having watched the racing from the stands only last year – and there I was being part of the action.”
Smith, who was back at school the day after the event, added: “The race was in the evening and the crowds were incredible, with all the stands packed.
“The pace was incredibly fast and I was hanging on to the back of the bunch for around 60 of the 80 laps.
“With constant attacking from the women at the front it was such hard work to keep up, I think the average speed was 48km per hour, but I was just incredibly grateful to be able to race against such brilliant role models and legends and be able to just about keep up.”
Earlier last month Smith raced in the Netherlands for the Great Britain junior team against rivals from the United States, France, Germany and Denmark.
She said: “I competed in many events, the most successful being the team pursuit, where the GB second team came third, Germany was second and the GB first team won. I gained good experience, coming sixth in the points race and seventh in the tempo.”
Smith, who is a boarding student at Ripon Grammar, has also competed for Great Britain in triathlon and England at mountain running.