|UCI Road World Championships 2018|
|Venue: Innsbruck, Austria Dates: 23-30 September|
|Coverage: Watch live coverage on BBC TV, BBC Red Button, Connected TV, BBC Sport website & app.|
On Saturday, less than two years after two operations on her heart, teenager Sophie Wright will represent Great Britain in the women’s road race at the Road World Championships in Austria.
The 19-year-old’s dream of being a professional cyclist seemed to be slipping away when her long-term heart problem forced her to undergo surgery in January last year, only for the operation to fail to solve the problem.
“I had a heart issue a couple of years before where my heart would just randomly spike to 250bpm [beats per minute] in about 10 seconds – that was quite a worrying time,” Wright told BBC Sport.
“My first operation didn’t quite go to plan – I was in there for about six hours and when they told me they hadn’t cured it I was pretty devastated because I was thinking my cycling career was on the rocks.”
‘My whole family cried when I was cured’
The former European junior mountain bike champion returned to Papworth Hospital for keyhole surgery in April 2017 – a risky operation which could have left her needing a pacemaker.
“They were working within millimetres of a node in my heart next to my junction box. If they got it wrong then I could have ended up with a pacemaker and that would be my cycling career over,” she explained.
Fortunately for Wright, her second operation was a success.
“When they told me they had cured my problem both me and my family cried,” she said. “It was such a relief that I wouldn’t have to have a pacemaker – it was the best news ever.”
She soon returned to racing but admits she didn’t fully appreciate the significance of the episode until later on.
“At the time, I was preoccupied with A-levels and I was just rolling with it,” the teenager added. “So looking back at it, it was quite a significant point in my cycling journey and life in general.”
Since her return to competitive cycling, Wright has gone from strength to strength and has already represented Great Britain at the European Championships in Glasgow this year.
She has her sights set on winning titles and views this weekend’s road race as a valuable step to reaching that goal.
Wright said: “I’ve always had the dream of becoming Olympic and world champion – it’s good to dream big and that’s my ultimate goal.
“These kind of races are hopefully stepping stones on that journey to the top so it’s fantastic to have opportunities like this.
“It’s brilliant experience but I also want to make the most of it and really go for it.”