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Dani King - Cycling
4:06pm Tuesday 24th July 2012 in Sport
WHEN Dani King chose to start cycling in order to get out of a maths lesson she made a decision that started a chain reaction leading her to the brink of an Olympic medal.
The 21-year-old double track world champion is one of the hot favourites to bring home a gold for Great Britain this summer.
But, had it not been for a visit to her school – Hamble Community Sports College – by British Cycling seven years ago then King would almost certainly have just been watching the Olympics at home with the rest of us.
“British Cycling came to my school and asked if anyone wanted to try out for some tests to ultimately get onto the talent team,” said King, left, who was a gifted swimmer and runner as a teenager.
“I was in a maths lesson at the time and said ‘yes, why not?’”
The team pursuit ace added: “If I hadn't been at school that day I definitely wouldn't have done a trial.
“If I hadn't been there I would have missed the opportunity completely and I wouldn't have thought ‘I'm going to try cycle racing’ – it would have never crossed my mind because I was swimming and running, so it was lucky.
“It was a coincidence that it was maths and I was even more willing to go.”
Hamble rider King, it turned out, was a supremely talented natural cyclist.
She stood out right from that first ride at school and quickly earned a place on British Cycling’s talent team and the Olympic development programmes.
Her progress was stunted when she fell off the British radar, before being struck down by glandular fever and tonsillitis in 2010.
But King recovered from illness to ride in the National Track Cycling Championships with her team, Horizon Fitness.
It was to prove a career defining moment.
Despite having just six weeks of training to get ready, she won team pursuit gold, silver in the points race, and bronze in both the scratch and madison.
That prompted British Cycling’s women’s endurance coach, Paul Manning, to email King and invite her to try out for the team pursuit squad.
So impressive was her form in testing, that the former Barton Peveril student earned a shock selection for the 2011 World Championships, in the Netherlands.
Along with Wendy Houvenaghel and Laura Trott, King then stormed to team pursuit gold.
The same result would follow in the European Championships, before she was part of the trio that defended Britain’s World Championships title in Australia this year.
King and Co smashed the world record on that occasion, having previously broken it at the London World Cup in March – an event that was held in the new Olympic velodrome.
Now, she will be hoping for a repeat performance at the same venue. And, given her meteoric rise, few would bet against her and the rest of the British women’s team pursuit stars.