Jennings puts junior track worlds medal haul down to self belief

Dual world champion's fast rise to the top continues

Australia finished on top of the medal tally at the 2011 UCI Junior Track World Championships with Queensland's Taylah Jennings the nation's top performer with a clean sweep of the omnium, gold in the team pursuit and silver in the team sprint.

It's been a good year for Jennings in her first season at under 19 level, who went home to Rockhampton after the Australian Track Championship in Sydney in January with a medal tally of three gold, two silvers medals from the 500m time trial and points race, plus a bronze in the pursuit to claim the Under 19 Champion of Champion's jersey.

Seven months on, it's a long way from being someone who "only ever got silvers and bronze at national titles" to being a dual world champion.

"I did a lot more endurance stuff between nationals and worlds and I think I started to believe in myself a lot more because the coaches told me that I was better than I thought I was," Jennings, 17, told Cyclingnews upon her return from Moscow.

Jennings kicked off the championships teaming with Victoria's Adele Sylvester for a silver medal in the team sprint on night one. The pair had set the second fastest qualifying time of 46.105 and in the final they were quicker over the two laps posting 46.062, over a second behind Italy's Daria Shmeleva and Anastasiya Voynova (44.873). However, that result gave some indication that Jennings hadn't quite caught up to the expectations of her coaches.

"I was so surprised... I saw my time for the second lap and I was like ‘wow, how am I doing this?'" she recalled.

The following night, Jennings teamed up with Georgia Baker and Emily Roper for the team pursuit having qualified second fastest for the final, three tenths of a second behind the Russian trio of Alina Bondarenko, Aleksandra Chekina and Svetlana Kashirina (3:30.635).

Somewhat disappointed with their qualifying result, the Australians focussed and overcame the Russians on their home turf in front of their home crowd, pulling away from in the back end of the race to cross the line in 3:27.654 ahead of Russia's 3:29.032. It was just .8 of a second off the world record time set by Australia the previous year.

Jennings' omnium will undoubtedly go down as the highlight of her campaign, unbeatable in the flying lap, 10km points race, elimination race, individual pursuit, 7.5km scratch race and 500m time trial. Even better when you consider that men's winner, Australia's Caleb Ewan, claimed his world title through consistency without any individual event victories.

Jennings, who like idol Anna Meares was early in her career, is coached by Kenrick ‘Reggie' Tucker put the result down to getting away to a good start and "knowing where everyone was," she explained.

"That really drove me to go better than I thought I would."

In terms of what comes next, Jennings is unsure of her race schedule but her immediate priority is to complete year 12. After that comes a possible start at the Noosa Crits but 12 months down the track, Jennings is eyeing the 2012 Road World Championships in Limburg, the Netherlands.

"If I can get my endurance right then I can go over there because I know I can probably outsprint most of the girls that would be in that team," she said.

 

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