The final day of the competition saw Jody racing in the Mixed Team Sprint alongside Darren Kenny and Sarah Storey. The GB team started into the competition as defending Champions and WR holders, however a rule change after last year’s World Championships – allowing fewer points per team – had forced the British coaches to reorganise their Team Sprint line-up. So today’s race was “a complete mystery” as Jody put it before the competition.
Tension was on after the Chinese posted a time of 51.152 but GB’s Darren Kenny got the team off to a great start. With Sarah loosing a little bit of time on lap two however, it was down to Jody to secure GB a ride in the final. And Jody did just that crossing the line in 51.114, only .038 ahead of China.
With both teams that close, it was obvious that the final for Gold would be a tough one for Darren, Sarah and Jody. And disaster stroke at the start of the first lap already, when Sarah slipped through the attachment on her handlebar, which she uses to compensate for the lack of grip caused by her disability. Sarah said “ I slipped out of it in the first banking which gave me an even bigger gap on Darren than this morning. The one thing that has never happened before, happened today, which is very annoying.”
Having issues with her handlebars, Sarah struggled to get onto Darren’s wheel and more importantly into his slipstream. Unsurprisingly then, GB was down after lap two and it was down to Jody again to try to make up the lost time. Unfortunately for him though, the damage was already done and the time gap too big to make up, so the GB team had to settle for Silver in a time of 51.175 behind the Chinese who rode a 50.564. The first time since 2007 that Great Britain has not won the Team Sprint title.
After the race, Jody said “We gave it all, but we lost to the better team today. Unfortunately, we had some issue with Sarah’s handlebar attachment, which had a deadly knock on effect. She lost Darren’s wheel so she didn’t get the benefit of his slipstream and as a result faded more towards the end of her lap. As a consequence, the delivery speed dropped so my lap wasn’t as fast as it could have been neither.”
Looking at the positives, Sarah commented, “We rode the same time (as in the qualifying) with a problem, and that problem cost us a lot of time. However, it would be worse to come away from this situation knowing there was nothing we could do, but we’ve got so many things that we can do now.”
One of these things will be to add more Team Sprint training into their programs, as Jody explained, “I think if we had practiced more, we could have been better. Maybe we have been a bit complacent with the Team Sprint because we’ve always won it comfortably, but we literally did our trial and no practice. Effectively, we had only done one training session in this line up, so it’s probably our own fault for not practicing.”
However, Jody and the rest of the team feel confident that they can win back the Team Sprint crown in London. Jody said: “We’ve got a lot of things technically, that we can pick up easy, free speed. The Team Sprint race has been a lot more competitive than we expected, but we’re not a million miles off from where we were last year and from where we need to be right now. I don’t think we’re out of this at all, I think we’re in a strong place for London.”
Although these World Championships have not been Jody’s most successful ones, he emphasized the fact that the London Paralympic Games are his main focus for 2012 “We have been working incredibly hard, but there is still a lot more work to do for London. I’ve defended my kilo title and picked up a silver and a bronze in the team sprint and pursuit, so I cant complain. What has been really amazing though is the support myself and the team have been getting from the fans back home! I’d like to say thank you to all of you, it really does mean a lot to me and I can’t wait to get to London and perform in front of a home crowd!”
Jody will now enjoy a brief holiday with his family in Los Angeles, before returning to the UK and starting his intensive preparations in the run up to the Paralympic Games.