• World Track Championships

James takes Pendleton's sprint crown

ESPN staff
February 23, 2013
Jason Kenny lost 2-0 in his sprint quarter-final with Sam Webster © Getty Images

Becky James took Victoria Pendleton's world sprint crown in similar fashion to the retired former queen of British cycling at the World Track Championships in Belarus.

James had to come back from 1-0 down in her gold medal race against Germany's Kristina Vogel in Minsk, just as Pendleton had to do one year ago in Australia.

Pendleton retired after London 2012 after losing her Olympic sprint crown to Anna Meares but James showed that the double Olympic champion's departure has not left too great a hole in the talent pool.

After losing the first race when she led Vogel off, she clung to her opponent's slipstream in their second race and emerged out of it to ease to victory and set up a decider.

She then had to lead Vogel off again but this time kept her opponent at a slight distance and when the German leapt for the line, the Welsh rider had enough to hold her off.

"I actually can't believe this has just happened to me," James said. "I'm world champion and I can't believe it. I didn't know if I'd run the first run quite right. We went over the tactics right after. I really wanted to win this so I sat down, kept myself calm and thought about what I wanted to do in the next round, did it and did it again in the third.

"This is the first time I've ever been relaxed when I'm racing. I've just been taking it step-by-step and taking each race as it comes. Now I know how to race properly. I didn't think I'd get a single medal, I was hoping to get top eight in everything. I can't believe I got a rainbow jersey."

James now has three medals to her name at these championships ahead of the keirin on Sunday.

Jason Kenny could not produce a similar resurrection and was eliminated from the men's sprint at the quarter-final stage.

Kenny was up against New Zealander Sam Webster and after leading him out and being pipped in the first race he could not keep up with his opponent in the second race.

Kenny took gold in the men's keirin on Friday after thinking he had been knocked out at the semi-final stage, but pulling another rabbit out of the hat and come back from one loss down like James was beyond him.

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