Stotfold girl wins gold in Melbourne

GOLDEN girl Victoria Pendleton is back in Mid Beds this week after winning two medals at the Commonwealth Games Down Under. The 25-year-old cyclist from Stotfold arrived back from Melbourne on Tuesday with a gold in the women s sprint and silver in the ti

GOLDEN girl Victoria Pendleton is back in Mid Beds this week after winning two medals at the Commonwealth Games Down Under.

The 25-year-old cyclist from Stotfold arrived back from Melbourne on Tuesday with a gold in the women's sprint and silver in the time trial.

Victoria said: "I was happy with winning just the one gold and that's as much as I expected."

The next aim for the world sprint champion is to retain her title at next month's world championships. They start in Bordeaux, France, on April 13.

Victoria, who is now primarily based in Manchester, lived up to her billing as favourite for the women's sprint when she won gold on Saturday.

It was certainly a hard-fought battle against Aussie Commonwealth and Olympic time trial champion Anna Meares.

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She took the title in scintillating style, exacting some revenge for her defeat at the hands of Meares in last Thursday's time trial final.

Victoria said: "This was my main event and because it's an Olympic event it was my main focus."

She took the first of the three races with a powerful surge from the front to win easily in 11.822. The second race was much closer though and Victoria was edged out by the merest fraction.

In a dramatic decider, she chased the Aussie hard around the final bend and just managed to push her wheel in front of hers on the line.

"The sprint is a gamble, it's always very close so I feel great about the win," said Victoria.

"It was tough but you just have to block it out and focus."

She had stamped her authority on the event in the morning when she broke the Games record with a time of 11.275.

In the semi-finals Victoria was drawn against New Zealand's Elisabeth Williams who had only made it through thanks to the repechage.

Williams was no match as she won the first two of her best-of-three races with ease to book her spot in the final.

Victoria also won Team England's first track cycling silver of the Games in the time trial.

She blasted round two laps of the velodrome at Melbourne's Multi Purpose Venue to record 34.662 and she was only beaten by world record holder Meares.

She said: "I'm very happy with that; it's the best performance in the 500m of my life so far."

Riding fourth of the five finalists, she knew exactly what she had to do to snatch a medal.

Victoria blasted off at the start recording 19.576 for the first 250m lap and sweeping round the second for a Commonwealth record.

She had taken the lead by more than half a second and beaten Kerrie Meares' Games record, set in Manchester four years ago, by more than three-tenths.

But Olympic champion Anna Meares showed her class by clocking 34.326 to take the gold and eclipse her mark.

Victoria admitted: "It seemed to take forever waiting for Anna's ride. I know it's only 34 seconds but it seemed ages. But it was an excellent ride by Anna so you can't take that away from her."

Despite being so close to gold, she was happy to have split the two Meares sisters. After finishing fifth in this event in Manchester and sixth at the Olympics in Athens, it was her first major Games medal.