Great Britain women’s sprint team Olympic qualification at risk

Varnish looking to lead team to Rio and secure a place

Great Britain's female sprint team must produce a special performance at the World Track Championships in London if they are to qualify for the Olympic Games in Rio. 

Jess Varnish, Becky James and Katy Marchant risk missing out on a team spot after a series of team changes and injuries. Unless they finish two positions ahead of France at the World Championships then only one of them will be selected for the Olympics as part of the individual sprint races.

"In team sprint we have it all to play for," Varnish told Cyclingnews and other selected media at a press event last week in Manchester.

"We had a messy run up in qualification through no fault of our own as athletes, mainly through peoples' decisions above us. Obviously things haven't gone perfectly when we've gone out in different teams. They've tried different combinations and I can see why they've done that."

Varnish and Marchant finished second in the final round of the World Cup in Hong Kong back in January, a result that resurrected the team's chances of Olympic selection. But with injuries to Becky James in recent times, the team has struggled. James is now back and racing once more, providing the team with further experience.

Surprisingly the team admitted that they did not know what the qualification criteria was for the Games ahead of the World Championships – although the details can be found on the British Cycling website. Varnish, the most experienced of the trio, added that their focus was purely on execution rather than points tallies.

"We've got to look ahead and not to who we have to race against. It's going to be hard and we are in an awkward situation but there's nothing that we can do about it. We just need to step up. We did in Hong Kong and that really helped to get those points."

"We don't know exactly [about the points criteria]. For me there's no reason to know exactly who we need to beat or what we have to do. We're completely focused on our execution of the race and that's the only thing that we can worry about."

"We could easily find out but that's just another emotion to add. If we go out there and execute our plan perfectly, that's all we can go. We could be thinking about what other teams are doing, whether we're doing it right."

Varnish is one of the most experienced members of the Great Britain track team. She raced in London 2012 and despite looking on course for a medal in the team sprint alongside Victoria Pendleton the pair were disqualified.

In the four years since Varnish has come to terms with her London experience and turned it into a character building episode.

"The Olympics does not define your career. I'm one of the people who can say that. I've been at the Games and in the form of my life and been disqualified. You don't die. Nothing happens. Don't get me wrong, everything that we're doing now is for next week and we've put everything into it. That's all we can do."

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