High Peak cyclist strikes gold on world championships debut
Cycling superstar Katie Toft struck gold on her UCI Para-cycling Track World Championships debut.
The Chinley rider beat China’s Jieli Li in the women’s C1 3000m Individual Pursuit to clinch a memorable victory in a time of 4:41.945 at the championships.
Toft almost matched that achievement in the C1 500m Time Trial where she clocked up a personal best to take silver for her second podium finish in as many days.
Speaking exclusively to the Advertiser in the days after her world title win, Toft said clinching gold was something she never thought would happen.
“The race for me felt amazing,” she said. “Just to be there was fab so to then get the catch was brilliant. Riding those last few laps knowing I was world champion was just an amazing feeling and made me push even more!”
Toft said the pictures caught her emotions perfectly - “ecstatic” - and that the warm down in the velodrome afterwards was a surreal experience.
Toft took a tumble on her scratch race debut later that evening before she took to social media to express her delight and thanks for the support received.
She posted on Twitter: “What a week! I’m a WORLD CHAMPION!!! I still can’t quite believe it!! Thanks to all the staff and riders for their help this week.
“But thanks especially to the people who have helped me get to this point, I would not be coming home with a jersey without you. See you soon!”
Toft and her Great Britain team-mates finished top of the medal table in Rio de Janeiro, returning home with 11 gold, four silver and three bronze medals.
Her dad Peter said: “It always makes us proud to see Katie competing on the velodrome, especially at international level. We know she will always give her best and this was no exception.
“It really was an incredible race against the Chinese paralympic champion. Watching the race unfold in front of us and seeing Katie take the lead was really exciting.
“Has it sunk in? Not really. Until Katie was presented with her medal and her rainbow jersey.”
And added: “Katie is still a none program rider, which means that as a guest rider British Cycling paid for travel and accommodation. Katie funds her own equipment and competes in road races and time trials.
“So for the future we hope that Katie will go from strength to strength and continue to improve. It’s been a wonderful experience which she - and we - have thoroughly enjoyed.”