Katy Nicholls has no plans to end career as she gets ready to become a mother

Olympic sprinter Katy Nicholls has set her sights on returning to elite competition after revealing she is expecting her first child this summer.

The 29-year-old Nicholls, nee Marchant, is due to join the growing number of mums within the British Cycling squad after former Olympic champion Elinor Barker gave birth to her son Nico last month.

And, like Barker, Nicholls wants to follow in the footsteps of the likes of Dame Laura Kenny, Dame Sarah Storey and Lizzie Deignan in returning to racing at the highest level after becoming a mother.

Nicholls, nee Marchant, won Olympic bronze in Rio in 2016 (David Davies/PA) (PA Archive)

“I wasn’t entirely sure whether I was going to carry on after Tokyo, I didn’t know what the next few years were going to look like, but something in me feels unfinished,” Nicholls told the PA news agency.

“I don’t want to stop and I don’t want to have a baby to stop my career so it’s great to have those role models to show you it doesn’t have to.”

Nicholls, who won individual sprint bronze at the Rio Olympics, rode to sixth in the sprint in Tokyo before her keirin hopes were ended by a crash in the quarter-finals.

She admitted she went to Japan not 100 per cent certain if she would continue racing beyond, but her mind is made up now.

“On the plane back I felt I was not quite finished, I still had things I wanted to do,” she said. “And once I found out I was pregnant, something else came over me and I thought, ‘I’m definitely not done’. I love a challenge and I’d really like to give this a go.”

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Nicholls always planned a post-Olympic break – she married husband Rob in Santorini, Greece in September – but has continued to train during her pregnancy.

There has been plenty of help from Barker, who has been a few months ahead having been in the early stages of pregnancy when she helped Britain to team pursuit silver in Tokyo.

“I’ve had quite a lot of contact with El and it’s been really lovely having her supporting me through training, giving me ideas, and it’s nice to feel like I’m going through that experience with someone else,” Nicholls added.

Nicholls has not been on the track for four months, but has continued to ride close to the farm she and Rob call home in Barwick-in-Elmet outside Leeds, at first on the road and more lately on her mountain bike.

She also continues to work in the gym, with the home set-up she created in a barn during lockdown coming into her own once again.

But the challenge of coming back will be two-fold for Nicholls. She has been the face of Britain’s women’s sprint for the past five years, a time when a lack of depth meant they did not qualify for the team event in Tokyo.

However, the bronze medal won by the young quartet of Milly Tanner, Blaine Ridge-Davis, Sophie Capewell and Lauren Bate at the World Championships in Roubaix last October points to a brighter future, and a battle for selection.

“I think that drives me even more,” said Nicholls, who plans to attend this month’s Nations Cup in Glasgow as a fan to cheer her team-mates on. “That team environment was something I craved. Tokyo and Rio were an individual ball game, so I don’t know if that influenced me in wanting to carry on.

“The fact the girls are up and coming, it’s a really exciting feeling and I want to be part of that. I want to ride a team sprint in Paris. Hopefully everything goes to plan and I’ll give it my best shot to be there.”

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