Cycling: Women’s pair fuming over Olympics exit

Great Britain's Jessica Varnish (left) and Katy Marchant compete in the Women's Team Sprint during day one of the UCI Track Cycling World Championships at Lee Valley VeloPark, London.
Great Britain's Jessica Varnish (left) and Katy Marchant compete in the Women's Team Sprint during day one of the UCI Track Cycling World Championships at Lee Valley VeloPark, London.
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A fuming Jess Varnish and Katy Marchant suffered Olympic disappointment before hitting out at British Cycling’s coaches for their failure to reach Rio.

Varnish and Leeds’ Marchant needed to finish two clear places ahead of France in the two-women, two-lap team sprint on the opening day of the Track World Championships in London to secure Britain’s Olympic place.

But the British pair could only finish in fifth place in 32.903 seconds while France were seventh in 33.258secs.

The qualification period concluded in London, and Britain did not accrue enough points to advance, with Varnish and Marchant pointing the finger firmly at their superiors.

“I feel sick,” said Varnish, who was disqualified at the London 2012 Olympics when competing with Victoria Pendleton.

“How many more times can I keep putting my life on hold, making these choices for my career, if it’s not going to pay off, through no fault of our own?

“We have been basically playing catch up through bad decisions and bad luck. There’s been people put out for races, say European Championships last year ... it’s great they’ve been given an opportunity at major championships and to try to qualify the ‘A team’ a place at Olympic Games, but they’re not there yet. It should not be their job. To have to qualify for the Olympic Games, it should not be a development programme. It should be ‘A team’, ‘A team’, ‘A team’.

“It’s not happened. This is through absolutely no fault of our own. We’re fifth in the world, we’ve beaten so many of the teams, this is the best we’ve ever competed and we’re not going to the Olympics.”

Varnish, who could yet go to Rio in the individual sprint and Keirin, vowed to carry on.

She said: “I started being a cyclist when I was 12 or 13 years old to be Olympic champion. I’m not going to quit.”

Marchant, a former heptathlete training partner of Jessica Ennis-Hill in Sheffield, said: “We should never have been in the position that we’re in today. To be able to come out and perform like we did today, under the pressure that we’ve been under, I’m really proud of Jess. I’m proud of myself. But to be sitting here saying we’re not going to the Olympics is heartbreaking.”

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