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Commonwealth Games Focus: Megan Barker

Megan Barker is hoping she measures up for two testing new roles over the next few months – World Championship medallist and hands-on aunt when sister and mum-to-be Elinor has her first child next spring.

While Elinor slows down a little in readiness for the birth of her first child - after recently revealing she found out she was pregnant during the Tokyo Olympics - younger sibling Megan's career quickened towards her debut Track Cycling World Championships showing in Roubaix, France last month.

The 24-year-old from Cardiff marked her first appearance at a senior world championships by winning a bronze medal in the women’s team pursuit.

Barker teamed up with Katie Archibald, Neah Evans and Josie Knight to see off Canada by more than five seconds.

The medal kicked off what will be a busy year ahead for Barker, with competitive highlights alongside the big family announcement.

“I’m really excited, I think it was quite a surprise for everyone,” says Megan of Elinor’s baby news.

“Not many people come back from the Olympic Games with big news like that so, yeah, it’s really exciting.

“I think it’s nice to see how happy she is and how supportive her team at British Cycling have been as well.

“It’s all looking good for her which is great and I’m excited to have part-time duties looking after the baby!”

While Elinor was in Japan, Megan missed out on Olympic selection in 2020, so was not alongside her sister when the delayed Games took place in Tokyo earlier this year.

It meant the news of Elinor’s pregnancy was just as big a surprise to her as to everyone else in the family of six.

It will mean at least a pause in Elinor’s cycling career, just at the time Megan appears to be making her own breakthrough to elite international level.

Her climb to the summit has been far from straightforward, however, having overcome glandular fever, pneumonia and blood clots in her leg and on her lung in recent years.

But now fully fit and firing, she competed at the delayed European Track Championships in Switzerland in October and then stepped up for the world event later in the month. 

The five women of Wales Road Cycling Team at the Commonwealth Games 2018
Megan Barker (second from left) with her teammates which includes her sister, Elinor (far right.) Picture: Welsh Cycling

 

"I took a short break after Tokyo, but now I'm back and really motivated for everything that's to come," she says.

"It felt good to be racing well at the European championships and our wins helped settle my nerves about the world championships.

“It’s going to be a busy time over the next few months. Through the winter, we’ll be doing some sessions in some smaller track races and then building up to the Commonwealth Games.

“I’m just trying to get as many racing opportunities in as we can, then racing on the road as well with my road team.”

With the focus away from Elinor for the time being, the next few months heading into Birmingham 2022 gives Megan – a member of domestic UCI road team CAMS-Basso - a chance to enjoy more of the family limelight.

But she insists sibling rivalry has never been much of an issue. She was too busy standing back and admiring the achievements of her big sis’ who won gold at the Rio Olympics and then silver – while pregnant – in Tokyo.

“As a junior, she was super successful,” recalls Megan.

“She won multiple junior European titles and was world champion. But because I was younger we weren’t racing against each other. I never felt any pressure. I just thought it was really cool: ‘That’s my sister!’

“Often you see people doing well and think they just magically get there. But I got to see the ins and outs of what it took. I think it was really useful.”

Having taken those lessons on board, Megan will be aiming to make her second Commonwealth Games in July of next year, having competed as a young 20-year-old in the women’s road race at the Gold Coast.

“We will have the track nationals at the end of January and that would almost be the start of a new season again.

“I’ll enjoy a bit of downtime at Christmas, then I’ll be back into it.”

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