Dr Kristy Howells, a Reader in Sport, Exercise, and Rehabilitation Sciences at Canterbury Christ Church University, is a World Masters Sprint Cycling Champion. But she’s no stranger to winning.

With multiple wins throughout the years including wins for British Para-cycling Championships and the International World Cup for track cycling, Kristy isn’t one to shy away from a challenge.

We caught up with her to chat about how she has become the most successful athlete at CCCU.

Taking a chance

Meeting Kristy was an inspiring experience. With such a positive attitude, it’s no wonder how she became a World Champion. Her positive outlook was infectious.

And leaving the interview, we couldn’t help but feel empowered and motivated to achieve pretty much anything we wanted.

“Winning silver in the team race was a real shock. We just wanted to compete; we never thought we’d win. I was in a team of three and we’d never ridden before. Our first two rides together were in the event!

“When I was putting the team together, I approached two fantastic athletes who thankfully had the same ‘hell yeah!’ attitude as me. We weighed up the pros and cons and we just thought, why not? What’s the worst that could happen?

“We qualified straight away for the finals. Then, because we couldn’t train together because we lived in different parts of the country, we based our tactics on our individual races that we had done earlier on in the week.

“With a few adaptions, we won silver! It was just one of those cool moments where you reflect on the importance of just taking a chance.”


“The key is to ask yourself what’s achievable. You find your goal and you simply work backwards. You keep to a tight schedule of training, eating (enough!), and resting, and most importantly, you enjoy the process.

“It’s easy to focus on external factors and compare yourself to others, but that won’t help you hit the podium. You have to focus on your performance and, ultimately, yourself.

“But it’s also about community. I’d be nothing without my tribe. It took me a long time to understand that by asking for help, you’ll reach your goals.

“For example, I helped two tremendous athletes, both called Walter – one in the 70-74 age category. He’s from South Africa where the velodromes are only about 30°, and ours are 42°. So, he was having trouble staying in the right position.

“I offered a little biomechanical analysis, which kept him on the right track. And he won a bronze medal and broke his national record!

And the other Walter – he was in the 85-89 age category – I supported him with calling out times during his individual race, which he went on to win!

It was so lovely because even though both of them were at the event as solo competitors, they had everyone behind them.

“We’re all just here to help each other at the end of the day.”

From BMXing to roller skating

Not only is Kristy a World Champion for cycling, but she has competed in lightweight rowing. She also adores roller skating and started BMXing during Covid as she couldn’t get to the velodrome due to lockdown.

“I’ve tried so many sports. I just love the freedom that you feel on wheels. Cycling just makes me feel alive. But I had to find something to do during lockdown and there were cheap BMX classes that started up at the local skatepark.

“It was so much fun. And the balancing skills I learned on the BMX helped me when I got back on the bike.

“Also, the curve at the skatepark was brilliant because it was only 25°. A lot of people were pretty scared of it, but I found it fun because I was used to a higher curve from the velodrome.

“At first, I was gutted that I couldn’t get to the velodrome during lockdown but more opportunities opened for me. I think, the thought process of ‘I just want to do it because I want to learn something new’ rather than doing something new to help my cycling helped me enjoy BMXing even more.

“Having the positive mindset of ‘ok, lockdown’s here and I can’t get into the velodrome. Here’s the barrier. How can I solve this?’ has helped me reach so many goals.

“I always teach my students that if you have one barrier, there could potentially be five solutions. It’s all about being open to new experiences and maintaining that positive mindset when you inevitably meet an obstacle.”

Being open and honest

“I totally recognise that the process isn’t always easy. There are good days and bad days. But it’s important to ask for help and to be open and honest.

“Another thing I teach my students is to have those conversations to help them find a solution to a problem that they may have.

“I use this in my training too. Years ago, I would never openly ask for help but after receiving leadership and mentorship training in my job, I learned the importance of being open so you can work together to overcome any obstacles that you might meet along the way.”

Manifesting an open mind and positive outlook

It’s no wonder why Kristy has achieved an incredible amount. With an open mind and positive outlook, Kristy continues to excel in the UCI World Championships, and we can’t wait to see what’s in store for next year.

A huge thanks to Dr Kristy Howells, and we wish her all the luck for her next adventure, whatever that may be. But we’re certain that it’ll be on wheels!