Olympic sprinter Katy Marchant swaps bike for tractor at Leeds farm during lockdown

Katy Marchant may be one of the fastest women in the world on two wheels but she has spent much of lockdown trundling along in a tractor near Leeds.

Monday, 25th May 2020, 1:36 pm
Updated Monday, 25th May 2020, 1:40 pm

As Great Britain riders look forward to a return to the velodrome in Manchester, Marchant has been working out in a make-shift gym in the corner of a barn, and helping out on her fiance's farm in Barwick-in-Elmet outside Leeds.

The Olympic bronze medallist might be used to approaching speeds of 70 kilometres an hour on a bike, but though she was raised a country girl, Marchant admitted finding the relatively sedate pace of a tractor much more hair-raising.

"It's a lot more complicated," she said. "It's really weird to be in something so large and feel so out of control, but I think I'm nailing it now. I've passed the test, anyway."

Sign up to our daily newsletter

The i newsletter cut through the noise

Olympic sprinter Katy Marchant swaps bike for tractor during lockdown (Photo: Katy Marchant/PA Wire)

Though her goal of peaking for the Tokyo Olympics has been shunted back by 12 months due to the postponement of the Games, Marchant is making the most of some rare time at home during lockdown.

"It's been nice to do something different," the 27-year-old said. "I think everyone feels a little bit more refreshed when you get a change."

As it was for so many athletes, news of the Olympic postponement came as a major blow for Marchant, who had looked in strong form as she used the UCI Track Cycling World Championships in Berlin in early March to secure qualification for Tokyo.

But having spent much of the last 18 months flogging herself on an intense World Cup schedule chasing those qualification points, Marchant is hoping the delay offers an opportunity.

Katy Marchant competing in the 2020 UCI Track Cycling World Championships (Tim Goode/PA Wire)

"I can't deny I was absolutely gutted to hear the Olympics had been postponed," she said. "I really felt in the form of my life at the World Championships and I was really excited for the next four months, but it was obviously the right decision.

"Going into the World Championships there were enormous stresses just over qualifying. Now I've got 14 months to make sure we're in the best possible place without having to be in form for this race or that race along the way. It's an extra year to get faster, fitter, stronger and better."

And while the velodrome has been shut, Marchant has been finding some novel ways to do just that - in between helping fiance Robert and his father run the farm.

To construct a makeshift gym, they cleared space in a barn and built a squat rack out of scaffolding.

"It's very different, but it's something," Marchant said. "We don't have medicine balls so I've been flipping tyres, but that's my background, it's where I'm most comfortable.

"I really enjoy being able to be a bit more creative with the sessions I'm doing. I'm doing my pull-ups on the diggers, but stuff like that just adds an element of fun to it."

And it is not just the farm that has kept Marchant busy when she is not flipping tyres. Marchant is also finding more time for her bespoke cake business which she launched last year, as the self-taught baker creates modern designs for weddings, birthdays and other events.

"Throughout lockdown I've been able to still keep doing some," she said. "Everyone loves a slice of cake, so we've been able to cheer a few people up."

A message from the Editor:

Thank you for reading this story on our website. These are challenging times but the team at the Yorkshire Evening Post need your support more than ever in the weeks ahead.

While I have your attention, I also have an important request to make of you. In order for us to continue to provide high quality and trusted local news on this free-to-read site, I am asking you - wherever possible and providing it is safe for you to do so - to also please purchase a copy of our newspaper.

Inevitably falling advertising revenues will start to have an impact on local newspapers and the way we continue to work during this period of uncertainty. So the support of our readers has never been more important as we try to make sure that we keep you connected with the city you live in during this time. But being your eyes and ears comes at a price. We need your support more than ever to buy our newspapers during this crisis.

Our team of trusted reporters are working incredibly hard behind the scenes - from kitchen tables and spare bedrooms - to look at how we can do this and your continued support to the YEP will help to protect its viability in the days and weeks ahead.

For more details on our subscription offers please visit www.localsubsplus.co.uk/YEP, email [email protected] or call us on 0330 4033004

Thank you

Laura Collins

Editor