Victoria Pendleton with her gold and silver medals at Team GB house in London following the last day of the track cycling in the velodrome. (Tim Ireland/PA Wire/Press Association Images)
This article was originally published on Cyclingnews.com.
There was to be no fairytale ending to Victoria Pendleton’s cycling career as she was beaten by Anna Meares in the final of the women’s sprint. Pendleton came into the event as defending Olympic champion and after winning the women’s keirin
looked odds on favourite to close out her career with a final gold in
London. However, in a best of three final, the British rider found
herself up against a hungrier, and possibly more determined rider in
The Australian already had a disappointing team sprint and then after
being beaten by Pendleton in the keirin it looked as though the British
rider had the measure of her old foe. Neither rider had been troubled
during their heats to set up a dramatic final to close out the women’s
track competition in this year’s Games.
Pendleton moved out of her lane in the final 200m, causing her to be relegated
In the first heat Meares used her aggressive style and tactic to good
effect, forcing Pendleton into deviating from her race line as the pair
approached the line. Although the British rider crossed the line first
the race commissaires relegated her to give Meares a one to nil lead.
Meares, with only a bronze in the team sprint thus far at the Games,
could sense weakness in the British camp and there was no answer from
Pendleton in the second heat with the Australian showing a clear pair of
heels on the final straight.
An emotional Pendleton ground to a halt and although she had missed
out on gold she still leaves the Games with gold and silver to her name.
But the relief to have finally brought the curtain down on her racing
career was palpable.
Video: Chris Hoy and Victoria Pendleton on their experience of London 2012 and the future for Team GB
“I wasn’t really aware I had come out of the sprinters lane. When
you’re going as hard as that, it’s not something you can see easily. Of
course you have to abide by the decision. It might look easy, but its’
tough at those speeds to keep the bike in the lane. I knew it was going
to be tough…I’m incredibly relieved it’s over. To come away with two
medals I’m relieved. I just hope people are not disappointed,” she said.
Meares and Pendleton have enjoyed one of the most competitive
rivalries in women’s cycling over recent years. Their duels have
entertained and helped the development of the women’s professional track
scene, both nationally and internationally, and Pendleton’s retirement
from international sport will undoubtedly leave a hole.
Pendleton and Meares – a long rivalry that’s now finished
“We had a good solid hug downstairs waiting for our medal ceremony.
We had a good chat. It’s been a rare thing to have two female athletes
really compete and mean it, on so many occasions and at such a high
level. I don’t think there are two others quite like us in the wings
either. It’s been an epic rivalry, and I hope it’s been entertaining. I
hope you’ve enjoyed it,” the British rider said.
“We just happened to have reached the peak in the same point in our
careers and have met each other on numerous occasions. It’s been good.
Racing against Anna Meares and being pushed that way has made me a
better cyclist, and has made our racing more exciting and more
Pendleton will now turn to new pastures with a career in modelling
rumoured to be in the works, as well as marriage and the chance to enjoy
life outside of the track programme.
“I’m never doing that again. I’ll never don a skinsuit again. I won’t
miss it entirely. I’ll continue cycling to keep fit and that’s it.
“I’ve been lucky to have so many opportunities from being a successful cyclist.”
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