An introduction (and winning gold!)
If you don’t know me already my name is Dani King. I’m 22 and live in Hamble, which is a small village in Southampton. I live with my parents and 20 year old sister Sarah. Before I started cycling I was a swimmer and runner. My family have always been sporty after my Dad competed in two winter Olympic Games in 1984 and 1988. He competed in the sport of Biathlon, one of the hardest sports out there apparently, after cycling of course!
When I was 14, the British Cycling Talent Team scouts came to my school and asked us if we wanted to try out for the ‘Talent Team’ which was to help young people reach the top in cycling. I was in a Maths lesson at the time and only really took part to get out of it. I’ve always been a really competitive person and so I gave the testing 100%. I ended up beating all the boys and making it through all 3 rounds. The 1st round was just a race around the school field, the 2nd was a more scientific test on a static bike where they measured power output and the last was a mountain bike ride. I think they put this in place to test mental ability and whether the rain and mud got in the way, for me it didn’t and I made it onto the team which was the start of my cycling career.
I started racing and fell in love with the sport. The beginning of my Team Pursuiting began in November 2010. I had suffered with Glandular fever in the summer and gave myself a goal of doing well at the national track championships in September. After a good championship I had an email from Paul Manning (the Great Britain Women’s endurance coach) who asked me if I wanted to try out for the team going forward to London 2012. I took the opportunity and started going up to Manchester on a weekly basis and training with 11 other girls with the goal of making it to the Olympic Games.
I love the event; there are so many different aspects that are involved in performing the perfect ride. From physical demands, team work, technical ability and aerodynamics. Team work is so important and I think that’s why our team has been so dominant. Myself, Laura and Joanna have 100% trust in each other and we know that when any of us are on the front of the line we will give 100% and we will know where on the track they're going to go. This means we can ride as close as 10cm apart giving us as much recovery as possible when in the line. This has been possible because of the amount of hours we have spent together both on and off the track. They're both like sisters to me.
2012 was the best year of my cycling career so far. Starting with London World Cup where we broke our 1st World Record in the final. It was an amazing experience as the race was held at the new Olympic track so was great to get a feel of the track and the crowd. The noise was incredible and gave us such a boost when racing. The 2nd world record we broke was in Melbourne at the world championships, closely followed by the 3rd in the final. We rode against Australia which was a great feeling to beat them on their home turf after they complained at London World Cup with our home crowd advantage.
We broke 6 World records in 2012; the next 3 were broken in the most amazing 2 weeks of my life, the Olympic Games. We rode 3 rounds, one on August 3rd and 2 on 4th. It was the most amazing feeling in the World becoming Olympic Champion; I knew when I saw the Americans in the last lap of the final that as long as we didn’t crash we were going to win. It’s something I’ve always dreamt of. Having my family, boyfriend, and some friends there made the moment even more special, I went straight up to them to celebrate. Initially I didn’t cry, I was just so happy and couldn’t stop smiling but when I reached my family and they were all crying it set me off!
Being on the podium was another moment I’ll never forget, to be stood on the top step of the Olympic podium with 2 of my best friends was one of the best moments of my life. I sang the national anthem at the top of my voice and I cannot describe the feeling I had. I just felt immense pride! Then, when I thought things couldn’t get any better, they did. As soon as the anthem finished Sir Paul McCartney led the crowd into singing ‘Hey Jude’. It was so special and I just tried to take it all in as much as I could.
Since the games I had 4 weeks completely off my bike, which I spent with the media, partying, going on holiday and spending quality time with my friends, family and boyfriend. I had an incredible home coming where hundreds of people turned up to see me home and celebrate my success. Having a gold post box topped off the whole experience. I then got back on my bike to prepare for Glasgow World Cup whilst fitting in visits to my old schools and college, old cycling club and opening new bike sheds and my very own cycling path named after me before going back up to Manchester. I found it amazing how much I had inspired so many young people and hope I can keep doing so.
Myself and Laura rode with Elinor Barker at Glasgow World Cup and after a tough qualifier pulled it together to win the final against Australia.
I’m now in Perth, Australia for a month with some of the Great Britain track team. We're here to train on the road, track and in the gym. It’s an amazing place to train with no distractions and to get away from what I’ve heard is grim weather at home. It will give me a great base before going back to Manchester in the New Year when I’ll be focusing on the World Championships.