SOLIHULL’S cycling ace Danni Khan has returned from participating in the Commonwealth Games more determined than ever to be on the plane to the Rio Olympics in 2016.
The 18-year-old was representing Team England in her first multi-games event in the Sir Chris Hoy Velodrome in Glasgow and came seventh overall in the individual track sprint and sixth in the 500m time trial.
“It was absolutely incredible experience, I have never experienced anything like it.” she said.
“Being in the athletes village, mixing with the other athletes, being part of team England and in the Lion’s Den – it was fantastic.
“I have never ridden in a stadium so loud. It was so uplifting when you got on the track and you felt the presence of the crowd and them calling your name.
“Twelve months ago the crowd was pretty big and I thought ‘wow’. But at the Commonwealth’s there was not a single empty seat it was a much bigger stage.
“Also having Sir Chris Hoy and Victoria Pendleton in the building was just brilliant.”
In 2013 Khan became two-time UCI Junior Track World Champion with sprint and 500-metre time-trial wins in the same arena.
Since then Khan has stepped up from the juniors and has represented Great Britain and earlier this year she won bronze at the Track Cycling World Cup in Mexico.
In April Khan spent 10 days training in Majorca, which is where she began to plot her selection for the Commonwealth Games.
“It was a big goal and I had to focus on what I could control and get the best out of myself and not focus on what the competition were doing.” she said.
“Being selected was absolutely the best feeling ever. It is the pinnacle of my career racing at such a high level – a new experience.
“Spending time in the village and not just with cyclists was great. We were mixing with other athletes and it was great to be able to chat to them and be in involved.
“I met many of the athletes including 100m silver medallist Adam Gemili and was in the same house as Jess Varnish and Laura Trott who is a multi-Olympic champion.”
Khan said she was lacking form at the Commonwealth Games and was half a second off her PB in some races.
“In June I had a three week block training Germany and may have pushed too far. But we will learn from this.
“I am still really confident and although I didn’t have the form I wanted at the Commonwealths my coaches will do everything they can to make it work and so will I.”
Khan is currently spending a week in Solihull and said earlier in the week she had trained at Tudor Grange gym and would also be training at the Alexander Stadium tomorrow.
Following this she will be back in Manchester training with the rest of the GB athletes and will also train again in Germany as she prepares for selection at the UCI World Cups which start in October.
This is also when the Olympic qualifying process starts where the selection committee take everything on and off the track, performances, training and fitness.
“I know I am capable and I will put everything into it in the hope that the hard works pays off.” she said.
First up in October is the Guadalajara World Cup where she won bronze.
Then in November the venue will be the London Olympic Velodrome with further dates January and the World Championships in February.
“Last year I was a junior and I never imagined I could get to a Commonwealth Games so things have really continued on an upward curve.” said Khan.
“The jump from juniors to major competitions has been really exciting and to think I could be representing Team GB at an Olympic Games is amazing.
“I now have to keep my head down and work hard knowing that the best people will go.
“I am a very competitive person and I have been so motivated to train.
“After seeing my teammates on the podium in Glasgow and hearing the roar of the crowd I want to get to Rio and get a medal.
“It has really opened my eyes and inspired me.
“For me to get a six and seventh place, two top eights in my first games and the experiences off the bike has been the real positives.”