REDDITCH-born cycling star Hayley Simmonds has expressed her delight after being selected to represent England at the 2018 Commonwealth Games in Australia.
The 29-year-old is part of a 27-strong Team England cycling squad for the Gold Coast Games which take place between April 4-15.
Simmonds forms part of the women’s road time trial team alongside Melissa Lowther and Abigail Van Twisk, whilst 2016 national champion Adam Blythe, Ian Bibby, Harry Tanfield and Thomas Stewart are in the men’s race for England.
Simmonds said on Twitter: “So incredibly proud to have been selected for #TeamEngland for #GC2018. Genuinely a childhood dream come true to represent my country at a multi-sport event.”
The Gold Coast 2018 programme includes track cycling, para-cycling (track), road cycling and mountain bike, with Team England competing across all cycling disciplines.
Simmonds, who was a keen rower at King’s School, Worcester, represented England in the 2004 Home International Regatta before switching to cycling while studying at Cambridge University. She won the 2015 and 2016 British National Time Trial Championships and in August 2015 set a new British national ten-mile time trial record of 19:46.
Also pulling on the white vest will be Malvern’s U23 world champion Evie Richards, who will compete for England in the mountain bike squad alongside Olympian Annie Last who finished fourth at the 2014 Commonwealth Games in Glasgow and British champion Frazer Clacherty.
Richards, who will turn 21 on Sunday, said: “I love being able to represent my country and I’m looking forward to riding for Team England at Gold Coast 2018.
“We had our World Championships in Australia back in September, so we used that trip as an opportunity to recce the mountain bike course for the Commonwealth Games. I really enjoyed the course and I think it will suit a lot of my strengths so I can’t wait to race there.”
England’s track cycling team includes 14 members of the Great Britain squad who successfully competed at the UCI Track Cycling World Championships in Apeldoorn, Holland, last week.
Among those to compete down under will be recently crowned world champions Emily Nelson, Charlie Tanfield, Ethan Hayter and Kian Emadi.
Emadi, along with Phil Hindes, won the silver medal in the team sprint in Glasgow 2014 and both bring Commonwealth experience to a team developing on its journey towards the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games.
Double Commonwealth tandem champions Sophie Thornhill and Birmingham-born pilot Helen Scott will be back to defend the titles they won at Glasgow in 2014.
Team Leader Keith Reynolds said: “Our 27-strong team of riders will represent Team England across all the cycling disciplines at these Commonwealth Games.
“There is a lot of experience within the squad, with 14 riders having an Olympic, Paralympic or World Championship medal to their name.
“Equally, there are riders for whom this event will play an important role as part of their development and it’s great we can offer this to younger riders on the World Class Performance Programme as well as to non-programme riders.
“We’re happy with the team we’ve selected and there are some exciting prospects across the board, so I’m looking forward to seeing how the team gets on at the Gold Coast 2018 Commonwealth Games.”
Team England Chef de Mission Sarah Winckless said: “England has a long history in cycling at the Commonwealth Games having won more than 100 medals.
“I’m hopeful this team will be able to add to that tally for team and country in just a few weeks’ time.”