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  1. ITV Report

Midlands Olympics hopefuls: Cyclist Jessica Varnish

This summer will be 21 year old Jess Varnish's first Olympic Games.

But there are high hopes that she could be a medal winner.

Cycling around the Velodrome, she looks like a natural - and you could say, it's in her blood.

Her dad, Jim Varnish, is the 1985 Cycle Speedway World Champion.

He used to take her out cycling when she was younger, and it didn't take long to see that Jess had the taste for competition.

Jim Varnish started taking Jess cycling at a young age Credit: ITV Central

"I used to take her along on mountain bike races that I was involved in. You could see that she was strong on the bike, but it was afterwards - she would say to me can you take me, can you take me. I've never had to push her to train. She had this desire to do it, to ride a bike and ride it harder than anyone else. She has that in-built winning mentality."

– Jim Varnish, Jess' Father

Jess was first spotted at the age of 14. She won World, European and National medals at junior level.

She came from nowhere to win gold at her first senior competition at the Manchester World Cup in 2008.

Earlier this year, Jess and Victoria Pendleton broke the world record to win gold at the Track World Cup - raising expectations of Olympic glory this summer.

When Jess is back home in Bromsgrove, she still gets time to go out for bike rides with her dad.

"We have always had this team thing going on. The garage is full of bikes. But this isn't a typical cycling household, the world doesn't revolved around cycling at all. It revolves around the family. In fact we don't talk about cycling a lot, especially when she comes home, she wants a bit of escape! I want to ask her lots of questions. She'll talk to me when I'm out on a bike when we go out for a ride, but not in the house! It's a privilege to be able to ride with her."

This summer will be Jess Varnish's first Olympic games, but there is still a lot of expectation. But Jim says his daughter is very focused and level-headed.

"I asked her the other day about how she was coping with the pressure, and she said, "Dad, I'm doing a bike race at the same time as the Olympics are on. That's all." She is trying to separate the two. She has a great partnership with Victoria Pendleton. Their nights in are legendary apparently - painting their nails, doing spray tans and they have Downton Abbey, the boxset lined up!"

And that downtime is important, when like Jess, you are focused on winning.

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