Former sprint and Keirin world champion Becky James has announced her retirement at the age of 25. James says that cycling will still be a part of her life, but her new focus will be about turning her passion for baking into a business.
"Over the past year, I have had time to think about my future and have decided to retire from international track sprint racing," James said in a statement published on Thursday. "After 13 years of racing my track bike, it is time to start an exciting new chapter in my life.
"I have given cycling 100 per cent and know how much commitment it takes to make it to the highest level in elite sport. The pressure of competing at the top can be mentally and physically draining, but the rewards have been incredible, and I have absolutely no regrets. I have achieved my dreams of becoming a World Champion, a Commonwealth medallist for Wales and becoming a double Olympic silver medallist. I now want to enjoy my life without the strict training regime, while at the same time continuing to lead a healthy lifestyle both in body and mind."
James first represented Britain at the Elite Track World Championships in 2010. Her performances were such that she was fast-tracked for the Olympic Games in London in 2012, but she ultimately missed out on selection. She put the disappointment behind her and, in 2013, she became a double World Champion when she won both the sprint and Keirin events.
It looked like everything was going to plan for James until a knee injury forced her out of competition ahead of the 2014 Commonwealth Games in Glasgow. While coming to terms with the injury set-back, James had the additional, more serious, of a cancer scare. During the 18 months, she would eventually spend on the sidelines, James spent time on her baking talents, which she showed off on her Instagram account @bakedbybecks.
James considered leaving the sport but returned to racing at the end of 2015. After the disappointment of missing out on the London Olympic Games, James made the British squad for Rio last year and went on to take silver medals in the individual sprint and the Keirin.
"To see first-hand how she battled back from injury and illness to claim the silver medal in the sprint and keirin in Rio 2016 was inspiring to see and I count it as one of my career highlights," British Cycling coach Iain Dyer said of James.
"Her coaches, support team and I have all enjoyed working with Becky, both as an athlete and as a person, and she will be missed. On behalf of the team, I'd like to congratulate Becky on her career which she can look back on with pride, and wish her all the best with her future career off the bike."