Exclusive: Interview World Cup Medallist Dani King

The Omnium is a brutal event for any rider so anyone who stands on the podium must be pretty special – 20 year old Dani King did just that winning a Silver medal in Astana.

Related Link: Astana World Cup Day 3

Larry Hickmott from VeloUK spoke to her for this exclusive interview.

At 2.30 am Astana time, the British team  left Kazakhstan for Britain and by 11am the next day (British time), I was talking to Dani King who was very pleased to be home. It had been a straight forward flight back and Dani explained how really happy she was with the result in the first World Cup for the 2011/2012 season.

“I really didn’t know what to expect from my first World Cup Omnium” she told me. “I’d only ridden one before and that was in the Under 23 Europeans. I just went in with the same mind-set I did there and take each race as it comes. I tried do my best in each event and it went well for me”.

Great Britain sent a smaller team to the Astana World Cup than the one they expect to have at the London World Cup but what wasn’t in short supply was team spirit. “The team spirit was amazing” Dani said. “Having Sir Chris Hoy there giving you encouragement and Ed (Clancy) who has done a few Omniums was great. Ed was really helpful when I had questions.”

Astana World Cup Silver medallist, Dani King.

“For example he helped me with the line I needed for the flying lap a few days before which I appreciated. It was good having the experienced riders there and it was an amazing atmosphere. It was a really great week with them on and off the bike.”

“The track was unbelievable too and Kazakhstan was a lot better than I thought it was going to be! There were quite a few Brits in the crowd and that always helps seeing the Union Jack and hearing people screaming your name.”

Dani is one third of the team that won the World title in the Team Pursuit (Women) in Holland this year. Another member of that team was Laura Trott who has had some success in the Omnium of late. So did Dani feel any pressure trying to live up to the success that Laura has had in the event such as her title in the Europeans a few weeks before?

“No, not really” she replied. “Laura and I are really good friends on and off the bike, teammates going for the same thing in London; the Team Pursuit. I just wanted to go there and do my best and get the best result in each event. In each of the timed events, I got a personal best so I couldn’t have really asked for any more of myself.”

One event I didn’t expect to see Dani win, perhaps top five was what I thought, was the Individual Pursuit. But Dani won it well so I asked, did that surprise her? “”It was a surprise, yes. It was the first Pursuit I have ever won! I got off the track and pretty much fell off the bike so I was really pleased I got it all out and timed it well to go faster than I had ever gone.”

“I went in with a strategy that I knew I could achieve and Paul Manning did a great job helping me. It was probably the highlight event for me because I’d never won one before and it shows I am getting stronger and stronger which ultimately will help my Team Pursuiting as well.”

“I did go out very fast but I responded to Paul on the side of the track and managed to get back in control and on to the schedule we were going for. Then I caught the girl who started on the other side of the track to me and that helped having that person to chase down.”

Dani in her trade team colours in a race against the watch.

As a former rider on the Sprint squad during her Olympic Development days, Dani was expected to do well in the Sprint events and in those, she certainly did with a win in the Flying lap and second in the 500 metre Time Trial.

“I went into the Sprint events very confident because I know I am a fast rider but I didn’t expect a 14.3 lap (Flying lap)! My best before that was a 14.8 and that was at the Euros and so although it was a fast track, I think that was a big chunk off my PB. The time I spent in the Sprint programme during the Olympic Development days really stood me in good stead because I have been able to keep that speed which has helped me in the Team Pursuit and the Omnium.”

Asked what the toughest event was, Dani replied “The Points race was hard but the Elimination race was really frustrating because I got eliminated for racing off the track (on the blue).  In that split second I made a stupid decision and they called me out which is frustrating because I felt really good and in control of my race. I’ll certainly learn from that mistake and won’t do that again!”

“Ultimately that mistake cost me a lot of points and perhaps the Gold medal.”

It has been some year for Dani. A few years ago, she was on the Development programme but for one reason or another, she slipped away from GB until the Track Nationals last year. There, she rode well and she got an email from Paul Manning asking her if she wanted to try out for the Team Pursuit. It was then says Dani, that her race to London 2012 started in earnest.

Dani at the Manchester World Cup this year and doing her best to force her way into the team … she went to the Worlds a month later and won Gold!

“It’s been a crazy year for me. This time last year I was getting over glandular fever and getting my tonsils out. I was working with the GB team on a weekly basis at that time and then got the chance to ride the Manchester World Cup and it’s gone from there.”

“I have taken every opportunity open to me and trained as hard as I can. I have been through a lot of ups and downs over the years but I love riding my bike and I want this so badly, and if you want something that badly, it will pay off in the end. It’s been great this last year and I just hope it will last!”

Prior to getting her ‘break’, Dani was on the Horizon Fitness/Prendas Ciclismo team (still is) and from there she managed to earn a spot on the GB track programme in February. A World title followed with the appropriate funding as her reward for all the hard work. A European title then followed a few weeks ago and now this Silver medal. The girl is certainly on a roll and its one she is crossing her fingers carries her all the way to London in August of next year and the Olympics.

The next goal for Dani is the London World Cup in February and the World Championships in Melbourne. Dani explained that there are five riders going for three spots in the event. There may also be a spot for a fourth rider as the Olympics will be over three rounds and two of those rounds are 90 minutes apart but that is a decision for the selectors she says. “We’re all kept on our toes because everyone wants it badly” says Dani of the competition for spots.

There is also strong competition from outside of the team for the medals Dani and the others are pursuing. That, says Dani, is good as well as it gives the girls plenty of motivation to train hard as they know nothing is set in stone and other country’s are looking to beat them.

Track Nationals amonth or so ago and Dani got to ride in the Rainbow stripes.

That hard work will start in two days. For now, Dani can sit back and enjoy being at home but later this week she heads back to Manchester to start a strength and conditioning phase that includes a trip to Majorca before Christmas to get some miles in. Then it will be back to the track and increasing the speed ready for the Manchester World Cup.

The trip back to Manchester will also see Dani return to be with teammates who are also her best friends. People who help her through the tough times just as he helps them because as she says, everyone has ups and downs in training.

It’s part of being an athlete racing at the highest level but for now, that training seems to be going very well for Dani and VeloUK wishes her lots of luck over the winter as she strives to be one of the chosen ones for the London Olympics. PS, have a great 21st Dani, like the London Olympics, it only happens once!

Dani is pretty handy in a crit as well and is pictured in Stoke this year sprinting to a win on her Dolan bike during the Johnson Health Tech Women’s series.

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