Just three weeks after being crowned champion of the world, Sheffield’s pocket dynamo Vicky Brown is lifting yet another trophy aloft.
This weekend the cycle speedway ace finally scooped the British women’s outdoor gold medal that had eluded her throughout her career.
Vicky, 22, is now one of only two women ever to have won both prestigious titles in the same year.
She sprinted to the British Outdoor Championship title after winning all five of her races with a 20-point maximum - despite heavy rain churning the Ipswich track to a mire and the expectation weighing heavily on her shoulders.
“I walked in as world champion and that piled on the pressure,” said Vicky.
“I didn’t get the luck of the draw as my closest rivals had better start positions for four of my five finals races and felt so negative I convinced myself I’d got no chance.”
What turned around the Sheffield Hallam sports coaching student’s fortunes was applying what she had learned in class.
“I turned the negatives into a positive by telling myself that if I had no chance, there was no pressure on me,” she explained.
“My university teacher Dave Hembrough, a strength and conditioning coach who is into sports psychology, had told me about Positive Mental Attitude and I’ve used it to redirect the way I think. It’s amazingly effective.”
Added pressure came from the fact that Vicky, who took up the sport at 17, desperately wanted to add the British title to her trophy cupboard: “In cycle speedway the women’s world championship has only recently grown in stature, but the British title has been a big goal for women in my sport for a long time. Everyone wants that striped white jersey,” explained the Sheffield Stars rider and captain of the women’s GB team.
“Having narrowly missed the title in 2012 and 2014, I was hungry for it.”
On the day, it was a close result on the Ipswich track; in the last race she and ex Brit and European champ Lauren Jacobs, riding on home turf, were neck and neck with four wins apiece.
Said Vicky: “I overtook her on the first bend and held her off. The mud made it heavy-going but that didn’t phase me, thanks to the quad-strengthening exercises my boyfriend Nick had forced me through. “I crossed the line first and felt this immense relief that I’d finally got the title.”
As well as her university lecturer giving advice, Vicky has her own personal coach in dad Ian Brown. The managing partner at law firm Wosskow Brown is a British Cycling Federation coach and is responsible for the development of the sport nationwide. In 15 years he has developed the British Youth and Junior Leagues and pioneered a sports academy.
He tried to introduce Vicky to the sport at eight, and again when she turned 17. Her first race in 2010 was in her brother Jamie’s cycling gear, on a borrowed bike - and within three years, she had won the GB Indoor title.
Vicky, who lives in Hathersage and trains at tracks in Graves Park and Hillsborough’s Cookson Park, plans to take a break from her sport and focus on her studies.
“I’m going back to university for my third year in a couple of weeks.and will be hanging up the bike for a while. I’m going to keep my fitness levels up, though.
“The only title left for me to win is the Europeans next summer. There’s a rumour it might be staged in Sheffield, which would be a brilliant place to complete the hat-trick.”