Commonwealth Games 2022: Welsh cyclist Jessica Roberts eyes medal after 'rocky road'

Jessica Robertsin action at the Commonwealth Games on the Australian Gold Coast in 2018
Jessica Roberts is preparing for a second Commonwealth Games having worn the Welsh jersey on the Australian Gold Coast in 2018

Welsh cyclist Jessica Roberts has sights set on a Commonwealth Games medal having "got back to happy Jess" after injury forced her to take a break from the sport.

Roberts has been selected by Wales for the road race and team pursuit at Birmingham 2022.

The 23-year-old's involvement in the Games had been in doubt due to a serious back injury.

"It's been a bit of a rocky road for me," Roberts told BBC Sport Wales.

"At the end of 2019 I started getting some issues with my back. I rode through that - [we] couldn't find any answers.

"Then the pandemic happened and I still had this pain on the bike. I wasn't feeling myself at all."

Roberts continued riding until April 2021, when the level of pain convinced her a break from cycling was the only option.

"I wasn't riding how I wanted, I wasn't showing what I can do," she explained.

"It affected me mentally and physically. So I took five months away, off my bike, [and] saw loads of people to investigate what was wrong with my back.

"Eventually we found out. I wasn't using the right muscles. I would just use my back for everything and that caused my neural system to get sensitised.

"That would cause a pain which went down my legs. It was like a travelling sensation every time I went on my bike, so it was a case of taking the bike away and strengthening everything up."

Roberts says the injury problems left her in need of a spell away from cycling for mental as well as physical reasons.

"I did a lot of stuff with a psychologist to try to get myself back to happy Jess and the break was the best thing I could have done," she added.

"I feel a much better person, a much better athlete and I am in a great place now. I am back racing this year, enjoying it and getting better with each race, so I am hoping I can progress from here."

Having only returned to full training in November 2021, Roberts concedes her involvement in this summer's Commonwealth Games was in doubt for a spell.

The Team-Coop Hitec Products rider won the British National Road Race Championship in 2018. She will compete in the event once more on Sunday, 26 June.

Roberts, who was part of Wales' Commonwealth Games team in Australia four years ago, says she is "really excited" about Welsh prospects in Birmingham.

"We have a strong team this year I think," she said. "In the team pursuit we have got a pretty good chance. Hopefully we are trying to a get a medal there - I am looking forward to seeing what we can do. It would be really to cool to get a medal wearing the Welsh kit."

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