Rio 2016 bronze medallist Katy Marchant sets wheels in motion for Tokyo

WELCOME HOME: Katy Marchant is greeted by dozens of well-wishers on her return to Barwick-in-Elmet last week. Picture: Adrian Murray
WELCOME HOME: Katy Marchant is greeted by dozens of well-wishers on her return to Barwick-in-Elmet last week. Picture: Adrian Murray
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A CONVERSATION between Katy Marchant and her boyfriend and family clearly highlighted the cyclist’s expectations at the Rio Olympics.

The Leeds speedster insisted that as she would not be winning any medals, her nearest and dearest would be better off not splashing out on the price of plane tickets to Brazil.

Save it for Tokyo 2020 was the gut feeling. Thankfully, dad Ian and boyfriend Robert ignored the cyclist’s advice.

Rest assured they will also be heading to Tokyo, with Marchant confident her first Olympic medal is the first of more to come.

Marchant, 23, is still coming to terms with having exceeded all her expectations by bagging Great Britain a bronze medal in women’s cycling individual sprint.

She beat Holland’s Elis Ligtlee in the bronze-medal best-of-three shootout in Rio, having negotiated qualifying and then three knockout rounds before seeing her bid for gold ended at the semi-final stage by eventual Olympic champion Kristina Vogel of Germany.

Amazingly, the Leeds-based athlete has only been competing in the sport for three years having initially attempted to land sporting stardom as a heptathlete, as part of Toni Minichiello’s training group which is headlined by Jessica Ennis-Hill.

It was Minichiello who noticed Marchant’s natural ability on a wattbike and alerted British Cycling.

Three years later, his protege is back on English soil with an Olympic bronze medal which is regarded as something of a surprise and a bonus.

Marchant had always envisaged Tokyo 2020 as being her ultimate chance to shine – and in four years’ time she will most definitely be urging all of her supporters to come along, especially given the prospect of competing in a second event, the women’s keirin.

Taking ten minutes out of her very busy homecoming from Rio, Marchant said: “Before I went, and when I finally got selected, I said to the family obviously the flights are really expensive so don’t waste your money just yet because this is my first Olympics and I am just going for the experience.

“I was like ‘I’m not going to be winning medals, I don’t need people in the crowd, don’t worry.

“But thank God my dad and Robert came out! I have only been in the sport for three years. I had expectations but it was more expectations of myself, not of a performance result.

“I wasn’t looking for results, I just wanted to go in and do myself justice and obviously a massive thing for me is learning the racing itself and the tactics.

“I just wanted to build as a rider and learn something new and literally after qualifying I felt so good and every race I went into I was gaining more and more confidence.

“Everyone has their day and I think I just had my three days then!”

“I am absolutely chuffed to bits and it’s a dream come true, for my first Olympics. And this is just the beginning.

“I’m heading to Tokyo in September to go to keirin school for seven weeks, just on my own, riding my bike and just living the dream really.

“Rio has been a massive confidence boost and I think people will look at me as a different rider now.”

Marchant’s success was part of an array of medals celebrated by athletes representing both Team GB and Yorkshire and the cyclist was given a heroine’s reception at recent surprise party held for her return home to Barwick in Elmet. Marchant laughed: “I’m glad I could fetch a medal home but I’m thinking there must be something in the Yorkshire water.”

The county collected 14 medals as a whole, and now Marchant anticipates having more than one bite at the cherry to add to her medal collection at Tokyo 2020.