Josie Knight overcomes 'biggest challenge' for fourth at European Championships

·3-min read
Knight, 25, narrowly missed out on a medal in Saturday’s individual pursuit bronze showdown as she went down to Italian Vittoria Guazzini by 2.71s. (Thomas Niedermüller / Munich202)

By Will Jennings in Munich

JOSIE KNIGHT battled through the ‘biggest challenge’ she’d ever faced and wanting to fly home from Munich to secure a valiant fourth-place finish at the European Championships.

The 25-year-old narrowly missed out on a medal in Saturday’s individual pursuit bronze showdown as she went down to Italian Vittoria Guazzini by 2.71s.

Knight clocked a personal best time of 3:25.231 to qualify fourth in the morning but was unable to emulate those exploits later in the day on Munich’s makeshift 200m track.

Several British riders have struggled to adapt to the shortened distance after travelling straight out from the Commonwealth Games event held at London’s more conventional Lee Valley VeloPark.

Knight says encountering the unfamiliar conditions was a massive shock to the system but took significant pride from overcoming her initial German demons.

The Olympic silver medallist, who also finished fourth in the team pursuit event on Friday, said: “It’s been a particular challenge for us as we had the Commonwealth Games and had not ridden together at all.

“Most of the teams – the Italians, French and Germans – had 200m tracks that they could ride on. I’d never ridden on one before – so if someone had offered me a plane ticket home on the first day I would have taken it.

“I couldn’t ride – my strength is my line and my smoothness and it had just gone out of the window.

“It was the biggest challenge I’ve ever faced learning how to ride it – but we pulled together on raceday and it’s definitely got better.

“I didn’t quite have it today – it’s always disappointing to come fourth, but it’s a really, really strong field here today so I can be pretty pleased.

“I was pretty mentally knackered after that so I was just really happy – this morning I did a PB but I didn’t quite back it up in the final. Hopefully there’s more to come.”

Knight joined forces with Neah Evans, Pfeiffer Georgi, Anna Morris and Jess Roberts in the team pursuit where they suffered defeat against France in the bronze medal clash.

She turned her attention to the individual event on Saturday and soared to a brilliant personal best behind Lisa Brennauer, Mieke Kroger and Guazzini at the top of the field in qualifying.

But a date with Italian ace Guazzini, 21, proved a step too far as Knight was unable to improve on her fourth-place team finish on Friday.

Knight has assumed greater team pursuit responsibility in recent weeks given the injury-enforced absence of two-time Olympic champion Katie Archibald, who helped steer Britain’s stars to six World Championship titles between 2013 and 2020.

And she added: “With having Katie back at these competitions, I’m really having to step up and take on a lot of laps at the front.

“I managed to do that and I can take a lot of confidence from that.

“I was contributing a lot to the front of the team pursuit and when we come back together as a team with Katie, there will be big things to come.

“To some extent I’m enjoying the challenge but I look forward to having her back.”

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