She might stand only 5’2” high -- but pocket dynamo Vicky Brown, of Hathersage, is walking tall after winning the world championship in the sport of cycle speedway.
The 22-year-old Sheffield Stars rider, who is captain of the GB women’s team, produced the performance of her life in the International Cycle Speedway Federation event at the Ashmore Park circuit in Wednesfield, Wolverhampton.
Vicky gave a near-faultless performance throughout, winning all five of her races to take gold with a superb 20-point maximum. Pundits at the event described her as “a cut above the rest of a quality field”.
Cycle speedway is a form of bicycle racing on short, oval dirt-tracks. But how does a slip of a woman take on the giants the sport and run away with a world title? “I just get out of the gate and cycle like mad!” says Vicky, who works for a Sheffield law firm by day.
“At the top level, the girls are much taller and far more physical than me, which can be intimidating. I’m seven stones wet through and I get jostled around a lot. So my new tactic is to power away from them and hold on to my lead.”
A former British indoor champion, Vicky ended three points ahead of fellow Brit Lauren Hookway. “It’s unbelievable that I’ve actually done it,” she added. “I’m really proud of myself.”
Equally proud is dad Ian Brown, who is a coach and responsible for the development of the sport nationwide. In 15 years, he has developed the British Youth and Junior Leagues and pioneered a sports academy. It was he who introduced Vicky to the sport at the age of eight.
“It didn’t go well,” she remembers. “My brother Jamie was already a speedway cyclist and doing well. He went on to compete in the World Team Championships with the GB juniors. I saw it as his sport.
“Dad suggested I gave it another go at 17. My first race in 2010 was in my brother’s cycling gear, on a borrowed bike. By 2013, I had won the GB title,” she recalled.
“It’s not an easy sport. Cornering and gating are tricky. This year, I’ve been practising with the Sheffield Stars boys. It got to the stage where I was out of the gates first and most of them couldn’t catch me. That gave me confidence for the world championships.”
Vicky can often be seen stamina-training on the Monsal Trail and on her favourite route, the 12.2mile Hathersage to Castleton road, which she does, there and back, in an hour.
She now has three weeks to focus her attentions on the British Outdoor Championships title that has so far eluded her.
“I was third in 2013 and second last year,” she said. “I’m hoping the confidence I’ve got from the worlds will make the difference. But the win could be as much of a curse as a blessing.
“There’s expectation on my shoulders now. I’m going in as the favourite, and everyone knows my tactic now. I may need to come up with another.”