Last Friday I spent an hour or so interviewing triple world champion track racer Victoria Pendleton, which was no bad way to end the week. I have to admit, though, to coming away with my blood boiling. Not, I hasten to add because of anything Victoria said or did, but because of what has been done to her and her sprint rivals at the Olympics.
Somehow I missed the full implication of BMX’s introduction to the 2008 Olympics, taking on board the loss of the kilometre time trial, a title held by Chris Hoy, but missing the fact that the women’s track programme at the Olympics now stretches to just three events – sprint, pursuit and points race. Compare that with the 15 titles that the women compete for at the Track Worlds, and the Olympic offering looks very measly indeed. But add in the fact that there are no less than seven titles for the men on the track, and you have to wonder what kind of world the Olympic chiefs are living in.
This means that Victoria, who holds world titles in the sprint, keirin and team sprint, has just one chance to win the gold medal which is the ultimate goal of her career. Although the men lost out too with the removal of the kilo, male sprinters still have three titles to fight over. Of course, this not only affects Victoria, but plenty of other world class women sprinters around the world, only one of whom is going to win an Olympic title next year.
Where am I going with this? Well, I’m not too sure. I’m trying to stop myself heading off into rant mode, and wondering if something can be done to get the world’s leading women riders on the track some more recognition. It’s too late for Beijing next year, but perhaps something can be done before London in 2012. A campaign of some kind perhaps? After all, there seems to be little point in Britain turning out world class track performers if they are not going to be given the opportunity to compete at the highest level.
Any suggestions can be made to us here at Procycling through this email address. I’m sure there are plenty of others out there who would like to rant about this joke of a situation too.
© BikeRadar 2007