It was an emotional end of an era when Victoria Pendleton won her silver medal at the London 2012 Olympics. After numerous fantastic achievements on the cycling track over the past decade, the “golden girl” has decided to retire from track cycling and spend more time modelling and planning her wedding to fiancée Scott Gardner next summer. We’d like to take a step back and look at Victoria’s amazing career.
Cycling's Golden Girl
Growing up in Bedfordshire in the 1980’s, the young Victoria showed an early interest for cycling. Her father, Max Pendleton, is a former British champion in grass-track cycling, a sport picked up by his daughter as a summer month activity alongside her brother when they were both nine years old. According to her website grass-track cycling is fading as a tradition, but has helped her build a strong foundation of stamina and skills in handling bikes. From the age of 13 the young girl started to make herself noticed with her cycling potential. But despite being spotted by Marshall Thomas, the then national track team coach, when she was only 16 she decided that she wanted to focus on her education. She did start training for track sprinting while studying for her Sports and Exercise degree, though, and went on to compete at the European Championship in 2001 while she was still a student. Throughout the next decade she would become a strong competitor in the women’s professional cycling world.
One of her most incredible achievements, perhaps the most important some would argue, is winning her Olympic gold medal in women’s sprint in Beijing 2008, beating arch rival Anna Meares from Australia in the final. She also set an Olympic record in Beijing. This gold medal win changed her life and in the following years she went on to win titles in the 2008/9 and 2009/10 World Cups, and competed in World Championships as well. No doubt, having the next Olympics in her own country brought with it a lot of pressure and Pendleton herself has been open about the fact that she was considering quitting a couple of years back. Needless to say, the nation is thrilled that she didn’t, though equally disappointed for her that she didn’t manage to secure her third Olympic gold in her last race against Australian Anna Meares who got the gold. Perhaps it wasn’t the fairy tale ending to her career that she had hoped for, but the British population were behind her all the way, and we’re sure she’ll be an inspiration to many young up and coming athletes. Photo credit: dcms