Becky James can't be compared with Victoria Pendleton, says Shane Sutton
Last Updated: February 25, 2013 11:19am
Head coach Shane Sutton hailed the historic achievements of Becky James at the Track Cycling World Championships in Minsk, but insisted it is impossible to compare Great Britain's new sprint queen with Victoria Pendleton.
The 21-year-old from Abergavenny won sprint and keirin gold, team sprint bronze and 500m time trial bronze to become the first Briton to take four medals at a single world championships.
Although Sutton was delighted to see James fulfill her potential in the Belarusian capital, he said only time will tell if she can be spoken about in the same breath as nine-time world champion Pendleton.
"You can't compare the two," he said. "Maybe in six years' time. Vicky, in her top flight, was incredible. Vicky was born with it. She had a gift, she could pedal at a great cadence. Vicky goes down in my book as one of the legends of the women's sprint."
Sutton revealed that James' success in Minsk has made up for missing out on last summer's Olympic Games.
James was a London 2012 reserve, but rather than being housed in the athletes' village, she continued training.
"The Games were a big setback for her," Sutton explained. "There were tears shed at that moment.
"Last night [Saturday], she looked back, laughed and thought, 'Good decision'. We have always believed she has got the ability."
In Minsk, Britain finished with gold medals for the women's team pursuit squad of Laura Trott, Dani King and Elinor Barker, Jason Kenny in the men's keirin and Simon Yates in the men's points race, to go with James' double.
Sutton believes his young squad can improve for Rio. "The head room is massive," he added. "There won't be massive gains, but you win Olympic medals on hundreds and thousands.
"I am sure there will be something we can find to move us on to Rio and being very successful there, as well over the next three years."
The group of riders in Belarus are just the start, with the likes of James and Jess Varnish, who missed out with a back injury and was replaced by Vicky Williamson, being pushed by Dannielle Khan and Rosie Blount.
"No one in this environment is safe because the talent pool is so big at the moment," Sutton said. "You can take anybody to the podium if you coach them well and give them the support services they need, as long as they have got a certain amount of physical ability starting the journey."