2008 Olympic gold medallist Victoria Pendleton has reiterated her intention to retire after next summer’s London 2012 Olympics but has admitted that she is “terrified” of having to forge a new career away from the velodrome.
Pendleton won gold for Great Britain in the track sprint at Beijing four years ago and is hopeful of successfully defending her title on home soil. She has also won a staggering 15 medals at the World Championships, including eight golds, and is unsurprisingly known as the Queen of British cycling – using that reputation to voice her opinion on the public spat between Team GB’s Lizzie Armitstead and Nicole Cooke last week.
Having raced for over 20 years, Pendleton feels that her career will progress to a natural end after next year’s Games. Her drive and determination are well known but injuries are starting to take their toll. Despite this, the 31-year-old told Sky Sports that the prospect of finding something else to occupy her time fills her with dread.
“I am terrified, really terrified, about life after cycling because that is all I have done,” she said. “Apart from a job over the Christmas holidays where I did some part-time work at my local pub and restaurant to earn some extra cash in between university, I haven’t really had any jobs.
“It’s quite daunting. What will I be good at? What do I want to do? I think I am going to take a year out and try everything. I am going to take up as many opportunities as I can with the people I have met along the way and just try a load of stuff.”
Pendleton spoke about her injuries, which have become more frequent in recent years, but stated that she still hopes to take part in the sprint, keirin and team sprint in front of her adoring home fans next summer. It could be a fitting swansong.
“I have been experiencing a lot more injuries, and a lot more injuries due to wear and tear,” she said. “You can’t turn back the hands of time, it just naturally happens. I do this because I love training and when you can’t train the way you want to because your body says no, it’s very frustrating. I don’t see myself having the ability to manage that frustration for much longer. But I’m not totally falling apart just yet, so I am going to push full gas towards those three events.”