It was a successful weekend for Watson Lake’s Zach Bell, tripling the amount of World Cup gold medals he has won in his career.
The Yukon cyclist won gold in both the scratch and points races at a World Cup event in Beijing, China on Friday and Saturday. Bell’s only other World Cup gold came at the start of 2009, winning a scratch race in Cali, Colombia.
“It is pretty big deal for me,” wrote Bell in an e-mail to the News. “It is very rare for an athlete to win both of these events at the same World Cup. So to pull it off is a big accomplishment. I was happy to finally have arrived – so to speak.
“Other wins have come as a result of being overlooked by the competition or by taking advantage of other riders. I feel as if these wins are more significant because I was one of the favourites for both, I think, and it is always harder to win from that position.”
In the points race, Bell took gold by winning three sprints for points and lapping the competition twice. However, the theatrics of the scratch race made it a more exciting competition for Bell.
“Getting the sprint right in the scratch race is something I have struggled with in the past, so to do it at this level is a good sign,” wrote Bell. “It is also more exciting to win because you actually cross the line first. In the points, I won, but at the end of the race I just followed competitors in because nothing else was necessary.”
Bell won a silver medal at a World Cup event last year in China. He also competed there at the 2008 Summer Olympics, finishing seventh in the points race.
As one of the most successful international athletes the territory has competing currently, Bell hopes to give back to the people of the Yukon, to whom he owes all his success, he wrote.
“I would like to specifically call attention to the fact that none of these results would be possible without the support of the Yukon and the people who live there,” he wrote. “Sport Yukon has been with me from the beginning and I hope I can help contribute to the success of other young athletes by inspiring them but also by offering advice.
“Also, now that I am more visible as an international athlete, I even hope to help contribute to the Yukon in general by helping promote the Yukon and the businesses and people who live there.
“I am very proud of my roots and I am always looking for sponsors from the Yukon I can (promote) leading up to the 2012 (Olympic) Games in London.”
Last December, Bell was named International Male Athlete of the Year by Sport Yukon for the second year in a row.
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