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Welsh Cyclist Emma Finucane recognised for transformational year with GB women’s cycling team

Off the back of a successful few seasons, the Great Britain Cycling Team’s (GBCT) women’s track sprint squad’s preparations for next year’s Olympic Games in Paris continue to go well, with the team claiming the Collaboration and Teamwork Award at the PLx Awards, hosted by UK Sport.

GBCT has not qualified for the women’s team sprint event at the Olympics since London 2012. Fast forward to today, and the team currently lies third in the world ranking and heads to Paris as one of the medal favourites.

This impressive turnaround has been building over the past few years and has been helped by insight and support from across the GBCT programme, earning them their PLx Awards success. The awards are a celebration of outstanding achievements at a high-performance level, that lead to unforgettable sporting moments.

Welsh cyclist Emma Finucane was at the forefront of the team’s success, setting a British 200m record as she won her first world title at the 2023 UCI Cycling World Championships.

Finucane won gold in all four of the women’s sprint events at the 2023 National Track Championships. She also won gold in the Cairo Nations Cup in the sprint and European silver in the Keirin event.

In the 2023 season, the track sprint squad won silver medals at both the World and European Championships, while also securing a bronze Nation’s Cup medal. Alongside Finucane’s individual success, Sophie Capewell won a silver sprint medal at the Cairo Nations cup as well as a bronze in the same event at the European Championships.

After giving birth for the first time in 2022, Rio Olympic Games bronze medallist Katy Nicholls (formerly Marchant) won a bronze in the keirin at the Tissot UCI Track Nations Cup in April. Lauren Bell also enjoyed a successful year, being part of the silver-medal winning sprint team at the 2023 UCI Cycling World Championships, alongside Finucane and Capewell and was also on the European and Nations Cup team sprint line ups.

The performance set-up has focused on developing the best performance analysis, strength and conditioning coaching, and psychology work as well as a strong focus on off-bike stimulus. All these areas came together to build the confident and psychological resilience of the current GBCT women’s sprint team.

Emma Finucane, said: “It’s been a great year for us as a team and we’re really grateful to receive this award in recognition of that. Teamwork is really important to us and we’ve worked really hard on what that has meant and should look like this year so it’s nice to see it’s paying off.”

The team were led by Kaarle McCulloch from April 2022, until June 2023, who placed emphasis on off-bike practices to help improve on-track performance and instilled in them her philosophy that riders must be ‘the CEOs of their careers’.

This mindset has seen the squad work together in a range of scenarios, from drumming to high diving, and have been encouraged to find their own interests outside of cycling. This focus on personal development, beyond just medal success, has been well received by the whole squad and is emphasised by the marked impact on performances.

The PLx Awards celebrated the high-performance sporting community in the UK and their contributions as an individual, team, sport, or event during 2023. The winners were announced at an awards ceremony in Stratford-upon-Avon on 28 November.

To find out more about the PLx Awards, hosted by UK Sport and powered by The National Lottery, visit www.uksport.gov.uk

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