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  Ciara Horne with unfinished business on the track as she eyes Commonwealth and Olympic Games  
  October 31st 2017  
  Ciara Horne. Photo: PA Images  
  The disappointment of missing a ride in the winning team pursuit squad at the Rio Olympic Games lead Ciara Horne to think of leaving the sport.

Not wanting to hang up the bike with any regrets Horne decided to continue and is back on the track with her eye on the 2018 Commonwealth Games with the Tokyo Olympic Games her long term goal.

The 28-year-old has spent the past 12 months working full time as a physiotherapist, a decision she made in advance of the Rio Olympics and one she hopes will see her stronger going forward having a new perspective on and off the bike.

A crash early in 2017 put her road season and time trial ambitions on hold, unable to put any weight on her wrist and with plenty of time to think she reached the decision to return to the track and focus solely on the individual and team pursuit.

Winning the individual pursuit at the Helsinki GP in June has been her only competition in more than a year and gave her crucial qualifying points. Horne will line up Pruszków, Poland this weekend at the opening World Cup of the 2017/18 season in the individual pursuit.

From there Horne is targeting the individual pursuit at the British Track Championships on her path to what she hopes will be selection in the Welsh Team for the Commonwealth Games on the Gold Coast in 2018. Though with the depth of talent on the track in Wales Horne realises making the team is the first challenge.

A year on from the Rio Olympics does the disappointment of not getting a ride drive you towards the Commonwealth Games and Tokyo in 2020?

Absolutely. After Rio I was absolutely heartbroken not to ride. I was very close to leaving the sport but something in my head kept telling me to give it one more shot and try and make the Tokyo 2020 team pursuit team. I was so close, yet so far in Rio. Regardless of the outcome over the next few years, I want to know I've given it absolutely everything towards my Olympic dream. That way I'll never have any regrets.

Made the decision to step away from British Cycling after Rio so you could work full time. A year later do you feel you made the right decision? Happy with how the year has gone?

Before Rio I had always planned to move to Cardiff after the Games. I graduated from Birmingham University in 2013 but I had put my career as a physiotherapist on hold whilst trying to make the Olympic Games. This was a sacrifice I do not regret as I learnt a lot about myself as an athlete and developed and achieved a lot of things I had once dreamt of achieving.

But after the Olympics I wanted to focus on my physiotherapy career a little bit more. I have absolutely loved working full-time for the past year. I've had very challenging rotations, learnt a lot and have gained perspective on life away from the cycling bubble. I feel it's helped me as an athlete as I feel like I've got a really good balance and a bad training session isn't the end of the world anymore...

Won team time trial bronze at the Road World Championships in 2016 and had a contract with Cervelo Bigla for this season before a bad crash training early in the year with injuries keeping you off the road for six weeks. Did it make you rethink your road season?

Yes definitely. Initially I had planned to target the British time trial championships. I lost a lot of volume in my training following that crash and ended up doing a lot of turbo and gym as I couldn't put weight directly through my wrist for a long time. If I'm honest, I still felt pretty confused about time trial or team pursuit. I've always loved the time trial, but I feel like there is unfinished business for me with the team pursuit. I thought really long and hard about my long-term goals; Commonwealth games IP, and Tokyo Olympics team pursuit. So, I continued building on my gym work and started back on the track focusing solely on my track goals.

First race back on the track was the Helsinki GP in July when you won the IP important to get back in to the feel of racing and pick up some UCI points as well?

I loved being back racing and really enjoyed racing the IP. It was a nice confidence booster as I had no idea where I was at. With full-time work, as many people know, it's hard juggling it all, I know I've not had the same volume I used to but have been putting myself in a box with very hard turbo and gym sessions so it was a little daunting not knowing what to expect.

Have combined study, working full time as a physio, training as well as racing this year how have you managed to balance it all?

Good question! I think because I've wanted to balance it, it's worked. You have to be very organised (anyone who knows me knows I love a to do list!) and disciplined. I've had a very balanced year, academically and sporting. But this was the year to do it if I'm serious about going for Tokyo (and I am). I've been on many courses to help me as a physiotherapist and have qualified as an APPI Pilates instructor.

I'm also very lucky as my fiancé Lewis Oliva is currently juggling studying medicine at Cardiff University and racing on the international stage. So together, we make it work!

Scaling back to part time work now to help you balance racing and training you work has been supportive of this?

On a Friday afternoon at work with a Friday evening track session approaching, I do question whether I've taken on too much when I'm approaching coffee number five of the day! That's why I'm so lucky that my work have allowed me to go part time to focus on achieving my cycling goals.

As much as I love the challenge of full-time work; I know I need to cut back in order to recover more between sessions and be able to attend more track sessions.

Luckily my work are superb, I work as a physiotherapist for the Cwm Taf Healthboard in Wales and they have been absolutely remarkable throughout in supporting me with my cycling goals. Going part time will make life a lot easier but equally will enable me to keep that balance in my life which I seem to perform a lot better with.

Commonwealth Games early next working towards selection in the Welsh Team your main goal?

100%. My main target will be to try and make the team pursuit line up.

The team pursuit was added to the program last year and the depth of Welsh talent yourself, Elinor Barker, Manon Lloyd, Hayley Jones, Megan Barker and Jess Roberts likely to be very strong contenders? Making the team not an easy goal either?

Definitely not an easy goal, but if it was easy, that would be boring, right?! Also not forgetting Amy Roberts or Dani King either; both athletes who don't require any introductions! It's a very strong Welsh team which is super exciting.

As well as the team pursuit also have ambitions in the individual pursuit?

Yes, as a team pursuiter, it's important to have a solid IP and 500m. I love racing the IP and will aim to make selection in this event for the Commonwealth Games.
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