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Laura Trott: Star of the London Olympics?

At only 19-years old, Laura Trott has shot to prominence as one of the potential stars of the London Olympics over the last week.

Having been part of the women’s team pursuit team that won gold and smashed the world record twice in a day, she followed it up by clinching her second gold medal in three days when she won the women’s omnium. At this moment in time, she is the only member of the British cycling team that is guaranteed the opportunity to win multiple medals at the London Olympics.

Laura Trott could be set for multiple gold medals at the London Olympics this summer

Wearing her traditional union flag nail varnish, she does not match the general impression of a leading cyclist. At only five foot tall and eight stone in weight, it makes one wonder where she finds the speed and power that has propelled her from nowhere to the brink of greatness. She was only promoted into the senior programme of British cycling last year, yet she is now a strong favourite for a brace of gold medals in the velodrome this summer.

Her upbringing has hardly been simple. Born with a collapsed lung, she was kept in special care for six weeks, developing an asthma problem at the same time. She took up cycling to build up her strength, but also showed promise as a trampolinist before health problems ended her participation. “I kept passing out randomly in mid-air, so obviously it was too dangerous to carry on.”

One of the other problems that she has are vomiting attacks, brought on by high stomach acid levels. They afflict her after almost every race and intensive training sessions, but she has learned to deal with it over the years. Indeed, she laughs it off when she is invariably asked about it after every race.

At the World Championships in Melbourne this past week, the impact that she made was in stark contrast to her diminutive figure. Seven weeks ago, the British trio of Trott, Jo Rowsell and Dani King set a new world record for the team pursuit of 3 minutes 18.184 seconds. However, in the qualifying in Melbourne, after the Australians had lowered that record, the British trio smashed that, recording a time of 3:16.850 to set up an intriguing final.

The question was not whether the record would fall – it was by how much. At the half-way point, the Australian trio had a lead of over 1.5 seconds. However, there was no panic from the Brits and they steadily clawed back the gap before pulling away with seeming ease. In the end, they won by over a second, smashing the world record. The joy on their faces was clear as the time flashed up on the big screens – 3:15.720.

The British team pursuit team broke the world record twice in a day to win gold at the World Championships

Two days later, Trott returned to the velodrome to attempt to win the omnium, a new event recently introduced to the Olympics. It combines endurance, sprint and solo disciplines to create a single overall classification over a two-day period.

By the end of the first day, Trott held the overall lead. She had won the 200m time trial, finished eighth in the points race, formerly her weakest discipline, and had won the elimination event.

Nerves plagued her throughout the night. "My head was going round, what if this happens? What if that happens? What if I crash in the scratch race? It will be all over. This morning I felt like I had a hangover. The dope control came round at 8.30am. I was already up because I couldn't sleep."

She returned to the velodrome on Saturday morning determined not to throw it away. She began by clinching third place in the individual pursuit, edging further ahead of her Australian rival, Annette Edmondson. She merely ensured she finished ahead of Edmondson in the scratch race, before underlining her dominance with victory in the 500m time trial to clinch the overall gold medal.

Trott won individual gold in the omnium, winning three of the six disciplines

Only two years ago, she was hoping for an Olympic debut in Rio de Janeiro in 2016. However, a first senior gold medal in the 2010 European Championships gave her hope of breaking into the squad for 2012 and she has not looked back. A brace of European gold medals in 2011 followed before her golden World Championships last week.

She has an infectious personality and, if she is not one already, could become a household name come the end of the Olympics this summer. If she does not win those two gold medals, it will not be through lack of effort. Her pugnacious attitude is summed up in one quote: "Too many girls just pussy-foot around. I just get stuck in."

Regardless, the 19-year old pocket-sized Cheshunt cyclist is one to watch, not only in the summer, but for many years to come.

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