sport

James returns with star status

Becky James returned home from Minsk on Monday a double world champion and the new star of the Great Britain track cycling team.

The 21-year-old from Abergavenny won the women's sprint and Keirin within 24 hours to become the first Briton to win four medals at a single Track Cycling World Championships.

"It's going to take a good week for it to sink in, or two weeks, or a month," said James, who plans to have a holiday and spend time with her family and her boyfriend, Wales rugby union wing George North, before resuming training.

"I just need someone to pinch me and tell me if it's really happening to me. I feel like it's a complete dream apart from the pain in my legs.

"Two gold medals. I'm just absolutely over the moon."

Britain defied a London 2012 hangover to finish top of the medal table with five gold medals, with James finishing with the same medal haul as fourth-placed France, having won two bronze medals in the opening two days of competition.

The World Championships took place without two of the great female sprinters - the now retired Victoria Pendleton and Australia's Anna Meares, who is taking a sabbatical - with James filling the void.

James won two junior world titles in 2009 and now has two senior titles. Pendleton won nine and three times won three medals at one championships, most recently in 2009, but never did she win four.

Meares won four in Melbourne last April and was challenged by an 18-year-old James at the 2010 Commonwealth Games in Delhi.

James won silver, but has only belatedly recovered her form after appendicitis and an Achilles injury which meant she was not in contention for London 2012.

In hindsight, James admits missing the Games was a blessing.

"I'm reaping the benefits now," said James, who watched Sir Chris Hoy win the Keirin in the London 2012 Velodrome.

Head coach Shane Sutton knows comparisons with Pendleton are inevitable.

"You can't compare the two. Maybe in six years' time," Sutton said.

Britain finished the first World Championships on the road to the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro with gold medals for the women's team pursuit squad of Laura Trott, Dani King and Elinor Barker, Jason Kenny in the men's Keirin and Simon Yates in the men's points race, to go with James' double.

Olympic champion Trott had to settle for silver in defence of her women's omnium title as London 2012 runner-up Sarah Hammer claimed her second gold.

"She's been beaten by one of the great endurance riders of our era," Sutton said. "It's not like she's just got rolled over."

Trott required a pep talk following her weakest discipline, the points race, where a poor result cost her victory.

"Doubt starts creeping in when you're not on fire," Sutton said.

Double Olympic champion Trott, who is not 21 until April, was content with her result.

She said: "I am really happy. Silver medal at a world champs is still pretty good."