Jennie Reed gave the United States cycling team its second medal of the 2008 UCI Track Cycling World Championships with a bronze in the women's sprint in Manchester on Saturday.
Reed bested China's Guo Shuang in two out of three head-to-head rides to claim her first career world championship sprint medal. After falling in two straight rides to defending champion Victoria Pendleton in the semifinals, Reed was sent to the bronze-medal round for a face-off with Guo. Reed won the first heat but was beaten by Guo in the second to set up a third and decisive ride. In the decider Reed edged Guo in a photo-finish to place third overall.
"I haven't medaled in my whole career, but once I made the top four I was like 'I can't go home without a medal'," said Reed. "Then after losing the second ride I knew I had to go to the line wanting it the most. I just didn't want to leave anything out there."
Saturday's bronze in the sprint was her second-ever world championship medal after winning a bronze in the keirin in 2004. On the international circuit, Reed is primarily thought of as a stronger keirin rider. But since the keirin isn't an Olympic event, Reed is refocusing her efforts towards the sprint.
"The last few years, I was more of a keirin rider and I think I was a little bit settled on that," explained Reed, "but working with Andy Sparks made me really believe in myself in the sprint, so we decided to give it a go this year."
Reed's bronze-medal performance at the world championships less than five months away from the Beijing Games confirms her potential as a medal favourite.
In the gold-medal final, Pendleton gave Great Britain its ninth world title of the week as she successfully defended her 2007 crown. Lithuania's Simona Krupeckaite fell to Pendleton in two straight rides to take the silver.
Reed will compete for a second medal on Sunday as the women's keirin is one of four events scheduled for the final day of competition.
© BikeRadar & USA Cycling 2008