British track prospects to follow on road to Rio

Ten of the best under-21s who weren't at London 2012

By Matt Westby.   Last Updated: 06/11/13 10:15am

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Becky James, left, and Victoria Williamson are two of the brightest female prospects for Rio

Becky James, left, and Victoria Williamson are two of the brightest female prospects for Rio

Great Britain's track cyclists returned to the public gaze last weekend at the Track Cycling World Cup in Manchester, but the squad that mainstream sports fans got to know and love at the London 2012 Olympics had a very different look about it.

Sir Chris Hoy and Victoria Pendleton have now retired and, in their place, a new breed of young riders are breaking into one of the most successful sports teams of the century so far.

Britain topped the medals table in Manchester with eight and, of the winners, three have emerged since London 2012. A fourth British rider, who was representing a Scottish team but has now signed a professional contract with British Cycling, added a silver and bronze to the tally.

The emergence of these young talents, and others, has led British Cycling performance director Sir Dave Brailsford to acknowledge that "the average age of the team has decreased quite dramatically".

Here, we highlight ten young British riders aged 21 or under who were not at London 2012, but who you could be cheering on to gold at Rio 2016.

The boys

Jon Dibben, 19

Jon Dibben has produced some strong results in the omnium

The Southampton-born omnium rider is attempting to mirror Laura Trott's success in the same event - and he is making good progress. He is a world junior silver-medallist in the discipline and stepped up to finish an impressive eighth at the senior world championships in Minsk in February. With youth on his side, it may only be a matter of time and experience before he is challenging for a place on the podium.

Owain Doull, 20

Owain Doull celebrates Britain's team pursuit win at the Track Cycling World Cup in Manchester with Andy Tennant

The Welshman made his senior world championship debut in Minsk and impressed with a fifth-place finish in the scratch race. He is also a talented pursuit rider and has won gold medals at both the European Track Championships and Track Cycling World Cup alongside Ed Clancy, Steven Burke and Andy Tennant.

Kian Emadi, 21

Kian Emadi is looking to fill the gap left by Sir Chris Hoy

David Moyes will empathise with Kian Emadi. While the Manchester United manager attempts to follow in the footsteps of Sir Alex Ferguson, Emadi has do likewise with Hoy. The 21-year-old stepped into the British team sprint line-up in the wake of Hoy's retirement and while the squad - which also includes Jason Kenny and Philip Hindes - has so far struggled to replicate the success they enjoyed with Hoy, both Emadi and Hindes (also 21) are still maturing and can only improve.

Sam Harrison, 21

Sam Harrison has already won senior team pursuit medals

Along with Doull, Harrison is another young rider challenging for a place in the men's team pursuit quartet. He initially burst on to the scene as an 18-year-old by winning omnium gold at a Track Cycling World Cup in Beijing in 2011. He followed that up by helping the men's team pursuit win bronze at the 2011 world championships and then silver at the 2012 world championships. With those results having proven his talent and potential, he is likely to be in and around the quartet for years to come.

Lewis Oliva, 21

Lewis Oliva is looking to make his breakthrough in sprint events

Like Emadi, Oliva is another young sprinter looking to make his name in the British men's sprint set-up. Although he has yet to make a breakthrough at an international event, he is now on British Cycling's podium sprint programme and could well be in the picture come Rio.

The girls

Katie Archibald, 19

Katie Archibald has burst on to the scene in the past few weeks by winning three senior medals

About a month ago, hardly anyone south of the border had heard of the Scottish pursuit rider, but then British Cycling coaches took a chance by selecting her for the European championships and she repaid them by helping the team pursuit squad to a gold medal and a new world record. British Cycling duly signed her up on professional terms and she showed them why that was a wise decision by winning two individual medals at the Track Cycling World Cup.

Elinor Barker, 19

Elinor Barker has established herself as a regular in the women's team pursuit squad this year

With Joanna Rowsell taking the 2012/13 track season off in order to concentrate on the road, a space was created in Britain's team pursuit squad for an up-and-coming talent. Welsh rider Barker was selected for the world championships in Minsk and repaid the faith of her coaches by winning gold alongside Laura Trott and Dani King. With the event now having been expanded to four riders over 4km and Barker having added European and Track Cycling World Cup gold medals to her CV, her future in or at least around the team appears secured.

Becky James, 21

Becky James is already a double world champion

This time last year, sprinter James was regarded as just a prospect for the future, but then she exploded on to the global stage at the world championships in Minsk by winning two gold medals (sprint and keirin) and two bronzes (500m TT and team sprint). She then added a bronze medal at the European championships and three medals at the Track Cycling World Cup in Manchester to confirm her status as one of the brightest young stars in the whole sport and a worthwhile successor to Pendleton.

Danielle Khan, 18

Danielle Khan became a double junior world champion in August

While James made a breakthrough by winning two golds at the senior world championships, sprinter Khan did likewise in this year's junior version in August. First, she won the 500m time trial, and then followed that up with victory in the individual sprint. James was also a junior double world champion, so don't be surprised to see Khan emulate her success in the senior ranks, too.

Victoria Williamson, 20

Victoria Williamson is breaking through in sprint events alongside Becky James and Jess Varnish

Along with James and 22-year-old Jess Varnish, Williamson is the third member of Britain's current women's sprint set-up. Like James, she made her international breakthrough at the world championships in Belarus by winning a team sprint bronze medal alongside the Welsh rider. The youngest of the trio, she is also the least experienced, but no less of a prospect.

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