Golden Opportunity - Victoria Pendleton, Cycling

Olympic Review continues its countdown to the 2012 Games with exclusive interviews with stars of three more of the 26 sports on the programme, who are targeting gold in London. Great Britain’s Beijing champion Victoria Pendleton will be aiming to emulate her team-mate Chris Hoy by striking gold three times in London as the number of cycling events open to women is increased in 2012.

Track cycling has a new look for 2012, what are your plans? Victoria Pendleton: There will be three events in London, which I am trying to qualify for. In the team sprint I’m looking for a team-mate that can deliver a standing lap of 18.9 and deliver me at a faster speed. The sprint is the most important personally, it’s the one that I will really focus on and it’s what I got into this for. The Keirin is a bit of a gamble to be honest, I will see what happens.

What are you looking forward to most at London 2012? Victoria Pendleton: Having an awesome home crowd, we have some very loyal supporters in Britain. The noise was incredible in Manchester, [at the 2006 Commonwealth Games], I got goose bumps out of the gate and almost forgot to pedal! The plans for the Olympic Village look amazing and we won’t have to travel far to the Velodrome. To be part of it all is going to be fantastic and we will be able to see other events when we finish.

How did your physique help propel you to Olympic gold? Victoria Pendleton: I don’t really resemble any of the girls that I race against and don’t think that any of them can really believe how something so small can go so fast. I have a very good power to weight ratio and a very low drag coefficient, which isn’t traditional but I don’t have a huge peak power output like Chris Hoy does. I had trouble to get people to take me seriously to start with because I was so small.

What does your average training day consist of? Victoria Pendleton: I get up around 08:30 and eat a breakfast of wholemeal toast and cereal. Then I would make my protein shakes and drinks for the day. I hit the gym at 10:00 for about two-and-a-half hours with a focus on leg and core-work, then something like tuna pasta for lunch. I try to grab a quick five minutes with my feet up before working with the bike from 14:00 until 17:00, then protein shakes and home for a huge dinner. I snack for most of the evening and go to bed around 22:00.

What do you like to do during any spare time? Victoria Pendleton: When I have a bit of spare time, which is not very often, I like to do some dressmaking and I am also well known for baking stuff. I like to read and have friends round for dinner but the non-athletes complain that I am making them fat!

If you weren’t an Olympic cyclist, what would you be? Victoria Pendleton: I wanted to be veterinary nurse when I was younger but I would probably be in the armed forces, I love routine.

When did you decide on a career in cycling? Victoria Pendleton: I remember in my second year of University watching Jason Queally winning at the Games in Sydney and thinking ‘there could be something in this’. I did work experience at the Manchester Velodrome and I trained every day there. I was living in a camper van in the car park! That gained me access onto the team.

What music are you listening to at the moment? Victoria Pendleton: I listen to Breathe by The Prodigy a lot. Fat of the Land has to be my most listened to album although recently I have been listening to a lot of 30 seconds to Mars’s later stuff. I like heavier, rockier music than pop. It creates the right mental place for sprinting.

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