LOCAL mountain biker Rachel Atherton is celebrating after winning gold at the World Championships.
Rachel, 25, from Llangynog, won the elite women’s downhill title at the Mountain Bike World Championships in South Africa and her victory saw her receive a gold medal and the famous rainbow jersey awarded to winners of all world championship cycling events in all disciplines.
Rachel, who also won the title in 2008, trains at the Coed Llandegla Forest near Wrexham when she is not on the road and rates the tracks there as some of the best in the UK.
Her brother, Gee, finished seventh in the men’s final at the Pietermaritzburg track in South Africa.
Rachel said: “It hasn’t sunk in yet, I’m exhausted. I was wondering if I’d ever win the World Championships again but I so wanted those rainbow stripes.
“In the middle section the crowd were roaring and I was just saying to myself, dig, dig, dig. So I dug!”
Rachel beat Emmeline Ragot of France into second place by 8.6 seconds with a time of four minutes 28 seconds on the technically challenging course.
Rachel, and brothers Gee and Dan, have all grown up cycling on the hills of Llandegla Forest, which is regarded as one of the finest mountain biking centres in Wales.
She now leads the mountain biking world series as the athletes head to Norway for the next round of action next weekend.
Coed Llandegla Forest manager Ian Owen said: “Rachel is a tremendous rider and it is lovely the Atherton family still ride here. We are a cross country biking centre so Rachel comes here for fitness training. I was lucky enough to get out to New York to watch her compete last year and she won then too.
“She is a superstar in her sport but when she’s here she is happy to chat to people and gives them a lot of time,” he added.