Rebecca Romero beats Sarah Hammer for world title

Brit crowned new individual pursuit champ

Former Olympic rower Rebecca Romero overpowered Sarah Hammer of the United States to win the women's individual pursuit title here at the world track cycling championships Thursday.

Romero, a former rowing world champion who won an Olympic silver medal in 2004, clocked a winning time of 3:30.501 to beat the two-time defending American who began fading badly less than halfway into the race.

Hammer eventually finished over three seconds adrift.

Australia's Katie Mactier claimed her second consecutive bronze in the 3km event after overpowering Britain's Wendy Houvenaghel in their medal duel.

Romero, who won an Olympic silver medal in the quadruple sculls rowing event at Athens in 2004, turned to track cycling only in 2006. She made an immediate impact, winning the British road time trial title in practically her first race.

After becoming British time trial champion on the track in 2007, she grabbed her first world medal, a silver, after finishing second behind Hammer in the pursuit at last year's championships in Mallorca.

That feat came a year to the day she had first tried out a track bike here at the British national cycling centre.

Romero will now be one of the women to watch in the event at Beijing, where she will be bidding for the rare feat of winning medals in two separate sports.

Admitting her bid to loosen Hammer's grip on the title had not been easy, she added that her second place finish last year was her motivation.

"Going that step from silver medal to gold has been difficult. I wanted it so badly but at one point I never thought it was going to happen," said Romero, who was born of an English mother and Spanish father. "But I'm a sore loser. I'm only interested in gold."

It is now nearly two years to the day that Romero first rode along the Manchester velodrome boards in a bid to relaunch her career as an athlete, but she does not regret swapping her boat and oars for the track.

"I knew point blank that it was absolutely the right thing, no matter what I went on and did," she said.

Ahead of her bid to go one better in Beijing, she won't be resting on her laurels.

"Now's the tough part, following on from that. It's only upward now."

For more reports, results & photos from the track world championships, see Cyclingnews.com.

© BikeRadar & AFP 2008

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