VICTORIA Pendleton is the pin-up girl of Britain s Olympic team. But on Tuesday afternoon she did not need to pose in nothing, or even next to nothing. Her winning smile was instead paired off with the perfect accessory – a winning gold medal. Cycling s s

VICTORIA Pendleton is the pin-up girl of Britain's Olympic team.

But on Tuesday afternoon she did not need to pose in nothing, or even next to nothing. Her winning smile was instead paired off with the perfect accessory - a winning gold medal.

Cycling's sprint discipline might often start like a slow bicycle race from a primary school sports day but it ends in a blur of pedals as speeds touch over 40mph. And no-one is better than Pendleton.

Australia's Anna Meares simply had no response to the world champion's superior sprinting skills in a one-sided final.

"I've wanted this so badly," said the 27-year-old Mid Beds girl.

"I've beaten everybody in the field this year and there was a lot of pressure because people expected me to win. I didn't have an option; I had to get the gold.

"It doesn't feel real; I keep pinching myself and thinking I'll wake up. I knew my speed was good and I just had to stay focused and do the best job I could."

Meares and Pendleton have a history - bad blood running thick in a rivalry that has seen the two exchange titles as the pre-eminent sprinters of recent years.

Meares only reached the final after a controversial semi against home hope Guo Shuang, who was disqualified but later took bronze, China's first ever cycling medal.

"She's a three-time world champion and she was just too good and too powerful," admitted Meares. "We've not had the best of relationships off the track but whether she likes me or not she has my respect."

Britain won seven of the 10 available track cycling medals - six more than any other nation. Of the 30 medals available at the velodrome, almost half were picked up by riders in red, white and blue.

And Pendleton believes it could have been more.

She won three golds at the recent world championships in Manchester but the restricted Olympic programme meant she only got to ride in one event.

"Unfortunately I've only got one chance to win a medal at the Olympics, which is really sad," she added.

"At the worlds, I had four events and I managed to win three gold medals. It's tough when the men sprinters have three events and I only have one.

"Overall, the men have seven medals on the track and we only have three - that makes me sick.

"It wouldn't happen in other sports like swimming or athletics and it's something they need to seriously change for 2012.

"I would have liked the opportunity to try for more medals because my form is so good."

However, Pendleton has warned against too much expectation being placed on Britain's cyclists as the attention turns towards London.

Success in Beijing means the sport is guaranteed to be one of the hottest tickets in 2012.

"We've set ourselves a very tough target to beat," she added. "I'm not saying it's impossible but we've got some teams who really want to beat us now."

The Stotfold girl certainly has time on her side, if the example of Chris Hoy is anything to go by. At 32, he became the first British athlete in 100 years to win three golds at a single Games this week.

He is also targeting a home Olympics - where another gold would tie him with Sir Steve Redgrave as Britain's most successful Olympian.

"Chris is a legend - he is my sporting hero and I get to train with him every day," added Pendleton.

"He's a legend and a role model and someone we should pay more attention to. He trains harder than anybody, he commits himself every day.

"He can also turn off his competitiveness and be a good laugh and he's an inspiration for cycling and British sport. He's a superman."

Pendleton has been criticised in some quarters for playing up on her good looks, with a photo-shoot - in which her modesty was only protected by a pair of handlebars - part of a pre-Games PR blitz.

This week she proved she is more than just a pretty face.

Lloyds TSB, proud first partner of the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games and supporter of Team GB on their journey to 2012.