Cycling star Jess Roberts battles back to claim Euro silver

·3-min read
Team France in action dat the Woman’s Team Pursuit during track cycling at Messehalle during the European Championships 2022 on August 12, 2022, in Munich, Germany. Photo: Thomas Niedermüller / Munich2022 (Thomas Niedermüller / Munich202)

By Will Jennings in Munich

Resilient Jess Roberts battled back from hitting ‘rock-bottom’ and nearly quitting cycling to win surprise European Championship silver.

The Camarthen star, 23, has endured a torrid time over the last two years and was close to pursuing a different career after a barrage of injuries and personal struggles.

Roberts told British Cycling she needed five months out and after returning to the saddle last year, capped a remarkable recovery by climbing on to the 10km scratch race podium in Munich.

The Welsh star came into the competition with minimal expectations and now feels like a different person after finishing second behind Polish ace Anita Yvonne Stenberg.

She said: “I’ve had a bit of a rough two years.

“I took five months off last year because of numerous things and nearly quit the sport.

“I’m really happy I took that break and reset and since I’ve come back, I’ve just tried to enjoy the process and not put too much pressure on myself.

“I’ve been working hard to get back to this level and hopefully I can build momentum from here.

“I had an injury that went on for two years and we didn’t know what it was, and that brought me down mentally and I was in quite a bad place.

“It got to April last year and I had to take a break – I wasn’t getting anywhere.

“I said to British Cycling that I need to take a break and ended up having five months off.

“But it was honestly the best thing I could have done – I did loads of psychology stuff, rehab work on my injury and I’ve come back in a really strong place.

“It definitely helped and refreshed me – it just changed my perspective on things and I’ve learned a lot about myself and how my body works.

“It builds my confidence a bit more – I did hit rock-bottom so it’s really nice for me and special. I’m hoping to continue from here.”

Roberts first started cycling at an outdoor velodrome in Carmarthen when she was eight before graduating to Newport during her teenage years.

Her precocity led to a call up to the British set-up, and she soon repaid that faith with a pair of medals – gold and silver – at the European Games in Minsk at the age of just 20.

Roberts has endured a turbulent two years since but hopes clambering back onto a major podium can lay the foundations for more success ahead of a key stage of her career.

She added: “I’m really happy with that – to get a place on the podium makes me really happy.

“I definitely didn’t expect it – you go into every race looking for a result, but I tried to put myself in the right position and it paid off.

“Hopefully, I can build from here and get back to where I was pre-injury.”

The multi-sport European Championships Munich 2022, featuring Athletics, Beach Volleyball, Canoe Sprint, Cycling, Gymnastics, Table Tennis, Triathlon, Rowing, Sport Climbing, takes place 11th-21st August on the 50th anniversary of the Olympics Games in the Germany city. Watch daily live coverage across BBC One, Two, Red Button, BBC iPlayer, BBC Sport website