Cyclist Isla Short is set for another switch in direction in the new year, having given probably the performance of her career in 2018.
The Peebles bike ace didn’t win a medal – but she finished in an utterly magnificent fifth place in the women’s cross country section at the Commonwealth Games in Gold Coast, Australia.
She plans to do less racing in 2019 and will be running independently – but the memories of her Australian experience are still exhilarating.
The result was cherishable, she said, but even more so was the performance.
“I was battling with quite well-known riders, so that was really cool,” she recalled. “It was the first time I had raced against the best riders in the world at that level, and that was good for my self-belief, and really eye-opening.
“I realised I was ready at starting point of being one of the world’s best. I knew I had it in me, but delivering was something else.”
Isla (22) also competed as a relatively late entrant in the road race, a discipline with which she was less familiar.
She had very little energy left after the cross country and dropped out after four laps. But, she said, even that was a very positive experience.
Isla’s Commonwealth prowess raised her profile and she joined team GB, while also tackling a season of European racing and World Cup events. She is moving over from the Under-23 category to Elite this year and has been concentrating fairly heavily on gym training, rather than mountain biking.
However, she hopes to peak once again in time for this year’s World Championships, in Monte-Saint-Anne, Canada.
Isla hoped riding as an independent in 2019 and not with a professional team might make for less stressful racing – but she was confident she could do well, with the training she received and the challenges of particiapting in a different category.
She has also started studying – human biology and nutrition – which she hoped would complement the cycling and hopefully lead to a post-racing future in sports nutrition work.