Jo Rowsell Interview


Jo Rowsell started cycling in 2004 and by 2008 she was a World Champion.  During this time she also completed her A levels, only becoming a full time, professional cyclist at the end of 2007.  It is a meteoric rise to the highest level in the sport and it all started when British Cycling's talent scouts visited Jo’s school and she went along to see what it was all about - a decision which changed her life completely!  


There were three stages of testing before Jo was offered a place on the British Cycling Talent Team and she started racing properly in 2005, as a first year junior.  Her success was immediate, she won the Junior Women′s National 2k Individual Pursuit title that year.  In 2006 she “graduated” to British Cycling's Olympic Development Programme and represented Great Britain in both the Junior European and World Championships on the road and track.  In 2008 Jo competed as a senior and partnered Rebecca Romero and Wendy Houvenaghel to win the first ever Women′s Team Pursuit at the World Championships.  Now that that discipline is part of the Olympic programme, Jo is working hard to secure a place for herself on the team that will compete in her home town and she tells us what it is like to live the life of a professional cyclist.



BE:  If you had not made it as a cyclist, what career do you think you would you have chosen for yourself?


JR:  I was always interested in science, so I think I would have gone to university and studied a science subject.  I’m not sure what career this would have taken me into but maybe some kind of research.




BE:  Which has been your most enjoyable or memorable victory?


JR:  The first time I became World Champion at the Manchester World Championships in 2008 was very special. It was my first World Title and also my first ever senior Worlds. The crowd made the event fantastic and there was so much media interest too.  It was quite overwhelming!


Jo Rowsell with Wendy Houvenaghel and Sarah Storey

Photograph courtesy of The only website dedicated to track cycling - from local track leagues to top level international competition 



BE:  How long and what sort of training do you do?


JR:  I train anywhere between 15 and 25 hours a week depending on which phase I’m in. At the moment we are in the middle of a training block preparing for the European Championships which begin on 21st October. Training has been very varied. We have just finished a block of gym work, where we were doing a lot of core and upper body work, as well as a few weights on the legs. The volume of training on the road is now being decreased as we are doing more work on the track, so for me I usually just do a couple of steady rides over the weekends. The track work is really ramping up now as we experiment with different line ups and keep putting a lot of work into the technical side of the event - you can't practise the changes too much!




BE:  Some of your sessions must really push you into the red, how do you make yourself do that day after day?


JR:  I always think about the event I’m training for. In particularly hard sessions I will visualise the race I’m training for and think about that during the effort. Also I try and take each session one at a time and re-evaluate how I feel each day.



Jo Rowsell thrid wheel behind Wend Houvenaghel and Sarah Storey


Photograph courtesy of The only website dedicated to track cycling - from local track leagues to top level international competition




BE:  London 2012 must be constantly in your thoughts – just how big a deal is that for you personally?


JR:  It’s massive! It’s what it’s all about. Every time I ride my bike it is all for London 2012. Even races and major competitions along the way are all about preparing for London. A home Olympics will be a first for all the GB athletes, but for me it is also in the city where I was born and grew up in, so I am very excited!




BE:  With so many women working towards the team pursuit, what is the atmosphere like in training sessions at the moment?


JR:  The atmosphere is really good in training sessions. The group has bonded really well together over the past year, which is really important, as it helps us all give each other open and honest feedback following training efforts.




BE:  How did you feel about the changes to the Olympic programme that meant the individual pursuits and the points race were lost in favour of the Team Pursuit, Omnium and sprint events?


JR:  At the time the changes were announced I had twice been World Champion in the Team Pursuit and my best result at the Worlds in the IP (Individual Pursuit) was fourth. I was keen to improve my IP and make it onto the podium but when the changes were announced I was over the moon that my favourite event, the Team Pursuit, would now be the main focus. Up until then we hadn’t committed much time to the event as the Olympic events always took priority, but I was always keen to go faster and see how far we could push the TP. I do however think it is a shame that the individual events have been lost. In an ideal world all the events would have stayed in and the Team Pursuit would have been brought in as an additional event, but I think the idea of including the Omnium was a good way of still including those events and I will look forward to seeing how this new event develops.


Jo Rowsell in the start gate, beside her Wendy Houvenaghel and Sarah Storey

Photograph courtesy of The only website dedicated to track cycling - from local track leagues to top level international competition 




BE:  What do you do to relax when you are not on your bike or in the gym?


JR:  I bought a house about a year ago, so I enjoy decorating and furnishing the house and picking out colour schemes.  I also enjoy going to the cinema, eating out, or just relaxing in front of the TV.


Jo Rowsell relaxing off the bike




BE:  Do you have any feminine indulgences with you track centre?


JR:  I like my nail varnish. I always do French Manicure for major competitions!




BE:  What is the best thing about being a full time cyclist?  Is there a downside or are you living the dream?


JR:  The best thing is training in the sun!  The only downside is missing family when I’m travelling a lot, or missing family occasions because I am away racing.




BE:  Who has been the most influential person in your cycling life so far?


JR:  Stuart Blunt. He was my Talent Team coach and it was him who came to my school and carried out the tests on the playing field which got me into cycling back when I was a junior. He has always supported me and fought my corner and believed in me when other people haven’t.




BE:  Have your wonderful parents always been 100% supportive, have they ever asked you to think about a life plan B?


JR:  They are hugely supportive and have never asked me to consider a plan B! They still come to watch me and my brother race whenever they can and are always there when I need them.




And now for some rapid fire, trivia questions…


BE:  Which is your favourite track to race at?

JR:  It’s got to be Manchester!


BE:  Who is your sporting hero or heroine?

JR:  Chris Hoy – the ultimate professional and a really nice guy too!


BE:  Which superpower would you choose for yourself?

JR:  To be able to fly because it would be fun to explore anywhere and I would never be stuck in traffic again!


BE:  Do you have a favourite tune on the iPod that you listen to just before you race?

JR:  I don’t have any particular favourites, usually whatever is in the charts at the time.


BE:  If you were going to treat yourself with food, what would it be?

JR:  Chocolate! Preferably Galaxy!



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