Victoria ready for action
VICTORIA Pendleton watched Great Britain start their gold rush from the bubble of the Olympic Village – now she s ready to join in the fun. Pendleton arrived in China as a hot favourite – especially after banking two golds and a silver at the world champi
VICTORIA Pendleton watched Great Britain start their gold rush from the bubble of the Olympic Village - now she's ready to join in the fun.
Pendleton arrived in China as a hot favourite - especially after banking two golds and a silver at the world championships in Manchester earlier this year.
So far she's seen fellow cyclist Nicole Cooke and swimmer Rebecca Adlington hog the headlines - putting the pressure on as she prepares to start her campaign in the women's sprint this weekend.
"After all the build up it's just a great relief that we are finally about to get started," said Pendleton.
"It's great we've had such a good start to the Olympics and there are plenty more good medal chances, especially in the cycling team.
"British Cycling is a great place to be and I feel very proud to be part of one of the top teams here.
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"We all feed off each other and I'm sure it's going to be a really successful Olympics for us."
Four years ago, Pendleton's Olympic experience ended in disappointment, despite arriving in Athens as one of the world's top ranked sprinters. This time around she hopes familiarity will breed success. "I'm a completely different athlete to the one I was when I went to Athens," added the 27 year old from Stotfold. "I underestimated everything in 2004 - the whole environment was surreal and it took me some getting used to. "But I'm glad I went because I learned so much from that experience and I won't make the same mistakes again." Pendleton has been working with fellow gold medal prospects Chris Hoy and Bradley Wiggins at British Cycling's pre-Games training camp in Wales.
Most other sports headed to Macau to acclimatise but the lack of a velodrome meant Pendleton and co stayed closer to home, working out in heat chambers to prepare them for the sticky conditions.
Despite the preparation, she still expects China's Guo Shuang to give her a stiff challenge for gold.
"The world championships couldn't have gone much better and it was great to be as far ahead of the field as I was," continued Pendleton.
"To be coming into the Olympics as the favourite is the ideal position to be in.
"It does bring its own pressure and people do expect me to win but that doesn't really bother me.
"People are going to raise their level of performance for the Olympics and I've got to make sure I do the same thing.
"It's going to be really close and Guo Shuang I know is desperate to win the gold in front of her home fans.
"I spent 18 months training with her in Switzerland and this is the Olympics that she has always aimed to win.
"She's very determined and a very focused character - she's a bit younger than me and China are really pinning hopes on her.
"She's an acquaintance rather than a friend and the language barrier always meant we were never going to develop a close friendship."
And home town support gives Pendleton another barrier to gold.
"We have only been given about 10 tickets for our families and it's really hard for our supporters to attend," she added.
"The Chinese clearly want a home crowd to dominate but that isn't right."
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