Golden girl Barker swaps velodromes for BBC airwaves ahead of Olympic title defence

Radio star Elinor Barker is swapping bikes for broadcast fame to gear up for Tokyo 2020.

And Cardiff’s golden girl believes that once-in-a-lifetime opportunity is the perfect way to whip up Olympic fever and power her gold medal mission in Japan.

Barker, 26, travels to Tokyo to defend her Rio 2016 team pursuit title alongside Laura Kenny, Katie Archibald, Neah Evans and Josie Knight.

She’s soared to both Commonwealth and World Championship glory – three times – since and last weekend, was invited to feature on Scott Mills’ and Chris Stark’s BBC Radio 5 Live Saturday morning show.

British Cycling’s Olympic prestige is well-established but radio fan Barker, a five-time world champion, says receiving the ping in her inbox was an opportunity she couldn’t turn down.

She said: “It’s really fun to do those kind of things – I should try and make the most of those kind of opportunities.

Hillingdon Times: TOKYO 2020 - 'A REAL HONOUR' - HANNAH MILLS AND MOE SBIHI ON BECOMING TEAM GB FLAG BEARERSTOKYO 2020 – ‘A REAL HONOUR’ – HANNAH MILLS AND MOE SBIHI ON BECOMING TEAM GB FLAG BEARERS

“I really enjoyed it. I listen to Radio 1 quite a lot, so it was very weird speaking to people I feel like I know and having to remind myself that they don’t know me.

“When something like that comes in my inbox, it’s probably the kind of thing I’ll never get to experience again, so I feel like it’s fun.”

Barker shot to international fame as a precocious 21-year-old as her, Trott, Archibald and Joanna Rowsell beat the USA and Australia to claim gold in Rio.

And that was one of six gold medals won in cycling as Team GB, spearheaded by the likes of Trott, Jason Kenny, Bradley Wiggins and Mark Cavendish, climbed to the summit of the sport’s medal table in Brazil.

Mills and Stark asked Barker about her ‘favourite ever WhatsApp group’ on her radio appearance and awestruck Barker, who grew up in the Cardiff district of Heath, responded: “I was in one with people like Bradley and Mark in Rio.

“It was so exciting and an experience I never thought I’d be in. I look back and feel so disappointed that we never got a team photo of the whole squad – that’s something you want to show your grandkids and someone everywhere you go.

“It was awesome and added to how special it is, and to the precedent of what an Olympics means.

“They’re the people I’d been watching on the TV for the last decade and had grown to know so much about.”

Barker now has her own shot at Olympic history looming as she bids to become a two-time gold medallist on the Japanese boards.

Hillingdon Times: TOKYO 2020 VIDEO - 'IT'S BEEN A DREAM OF MINE SINCE I WAS EIGHT' - LAUREN PRICE RELISHING TEAM GB BOWTOKYO 2020 VIDEO – ‘IT’S BEEN A DREAM OF MINE SINCE I WAS EIGHT’ – LAUREN PRICE RELISHING TEAM GB BOW

She’s already racked up 12 World Championship – and 11 European – medals but knows defending her team pursuit title in Tokyo would further cement her legacy as a British Cycling great.

Barker was speaking from a holding camp ahead of the Games and hopes adjusting to the high-pressure stakes can catapult her to yet more glory in the Izu Velodrome.

“It feels a little bit different to last time,” added Barker, whose Team GB exploits will be broadcast live on Eurosport and discovery+.

“It felt a bit overwhelming last time but now it feels like a really exciting part of the process that I feel really comfortable with.

“At the last Games it was an unknown to me to have such a long training camp, but we’ve been here for a little less time and it’s so exciting.”

Stream every unmissable moment of Olympic Games Tokyo 2020 live on discovery+, The Streaming Home of the Olympics.

Hillingdon Times | News