Emma Finucane hoping her success inspires more girls to take up track sprinting

By Sports Desk March 07, 2024

World and European champion Emma Finucane is hoping to inspire the next generation of young girls after helping to overhaul the fortunes of Great Britain’s women’s sprint squad.

Amid the dominance Britain has enjoyed in Olympic track cycling since Beijing, there had been a glaring weakness since London 2012, with the country failing to even qualify to race in the women’s team sprint at the last two Games as Katy Marchant was left to fly the flag alone in the individual events.

But a plan put in place after Rio to address that has begun bearing fruit since Tokyo, and Britain will head to Paris on the back of team sprint silver medals at both the World Championships in Glasgow last summer and at the European Championships in Apeldoorn in January.

Sophie Capewell, Lauren Bell and Milly Tanner have all earned their place on British Cycling’s Olympic Podium Programme alongside Marchant, and Finucane, 21, made herself the poster girl of the revolution with individual sprint titles at both world and European level in the last seven months.

“Women’s track sprinting has come on loads and I think that’s down to the strength in depth we have,” Finucane told the PA news agency while watching the next set of hopefuls race at the British National Championships in Manchester.

“Even at the nationals we have so many girls breaking personal bests and pushing each other on. We have that internal competition and it really, really helps the women’s sprint. Hopefully in Paris we will have a team sprint and that hasn’t been the case for the last two cycles.

“That is super exciting and I think it shows we can do it, we work just as hard as everyone else and the results will come.

“I hope to inspire younger people to get into sprinting because I didn’t really know a lot about it when I was younger. All you would see was Laura Kenny and the endurance riders, so I think it’s a huge thing for the women’s sprint.”

Finucane surprised herself with her victory in Glasgow last year, a title that thrust her onto the shortlist of favourites for Olympic success in Paris. But only three years ago she was a fresh-faced teenager trying to find her way around the Manchester velodrome after moving from home in Wales.

“I moved up in January of 2021 and I didn’t think Paris was a possibility for me,” she said. “I’m quite young and I’d just moved out of home and only just purely started track sprinting. My career progressed from there and I’m now trying to qualify for the Games so it really is exciting.

“I’ve just tried to take each race as it comes like I always do. I think there has been a part of my career that has happened quite quickly but I wouldn’t have it any other way, just living and riding my bike with these amazing girls around.”

The rainbow jersey has brought added attention and expectation but Finucane’s individual win at the Euros in January, again beating the German duo of Lea Friedrich and Emma Hinze who might expect to be the primary opposition in Paris, suggests she is handling it just fine.

“I’m aware of (the expectations) but I’m just going to try and enjoy the journey, not just focus on the outcome,” she said.

“I feel like that’s where people get lost. It’s a journey and there’s still a long way to go. I’m trying to enjoy the people around me, I still have my circle around me, and I just want to enjoy racing. I feel that’s when I’m at my best.”

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