From swimming hatred to cycling delight: Barkers sister act ready for Six Day London showdown
27 September 2017
Imagine hating a sport so much that you’d rather ride around a track, crash multiple times and put your body to the cycling limits just to get out of it.
For Elinor Barker and swimming, that is a very happy reality – and it’s all thanks to her sister Meg.
Six Day London will see double trouble when it comes to the Barker family this year, with younger sibling Meg joining the Six Day Series champion on the boards for the first time.
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But if it wasn’t for her younger sister, Elinor probably wouldn’t be the three-time world champion that she is.
Neither would she be an Olympic gold medallist from Rio 2016, nor our Six Day Series champion, nor even competing in London later this year.
So, when it comes to the podium speeches, the bouquets of flowers and of course the medals, it’s fair to say Barker has a lot to thank Meg for – mostly a shared desire not to swim.
“Me and Meg both started cycling with Maindy Flyers Cycling Club when we were quite little,” Elinor explained. “It was basically just a way of getting out of swimming lessons, because we hated them.
“Meg found out that cycling was on at the same time, and it was a different sport we could do to show our parents that we were still being active and keeping healthy, just without swimming.
“She’s actually the reason that I started cycling, when she was about seven or eight.
“So, I’ve really got her to thank for being here.”
If her tale to the top could be any more remarkable, Elinor didn’t even enjoy cycling to begin with.
But with true Welsh grit, each time she fell down the 23-year-old got back up again – and boy has it worked.
Now the Barker siblings are preparing to take everything full circle, going wheel to wheel at the Lee Valley VeloPark in less than a month’s time as part of Six Day London.
This year will mark Meg’s debut of beers, beats and bikes, continuing the impressive development that has seen her take to the senior stage like a duck to water, with more still expected of the 20-year-old.
For Elinor, that’s a challenge she cannot wait to undertake, desperate to race both with and against her sibling with the added pressure of being Series champion after her Mallorcan success in March.
“I’ve started racing against Meg a lot more now that she is a senior rider – that’s been exciting,” she added.
“But why I’m still cycling, I have absolutely no idea to be honest. I didn’t enjoy my first lesson as much as I’d convinced myself that I had.
“I crashed maybe three times, but it was just really fun to go fast and when you’re a little kid it’s so exciting because you’re running around all the time and learning all these new things, and everything’s so exciting.
“But then to get on a bike and go so much faster than you’re ever gone before, it’s incredible.”
Tickets for the Saturday and Sunday session of Six Day London are currently sold out with tickets still available for Tuesday to Friday here