Victoria Pendleton of Britain is looking forward to the Olympics with confidence after she retained the women’s sprint crown at the world track cycling championships in Manchester on Saturday.
Pendleton claimed her third title since 2005 in the prestigious speed event after dominating Lithuania’s Simona Krupeckaite over two legs in the final.
Krupeckaite took the silver medal. Shuang Guo of China and American Jennie Reed have yet to contend a decider for the bronze medal.
Britain now have seven gold medals from the 11 events that have been held so far at the championships, and are aiming for more on Saturday in the men’s Madison and keirin events.
Pendleton has already won one gold here, when she teamed up with Shanaze Reade to defend the team sprint crown they won in Mallorca last year.
But she admitted the tough individual sprint competition, where riders have to qualify and go through several rounds before making it to the finals, was a different affair.
“It wasn’t straight forward, I had to work really hard but I still felt really confident today and that makes a big difference,” Pendleton said. “I knew my legs were good. I did well in the team sprint and the time trial (time) I did yesterday was the best of my life, so I really wanted to go out there and grab it today.”
Pendleton’s only event at the Beijing Olympics will be in the sprint, the 500m having been omitted from the programme to make way for BMX.
Now with her third individual title in the bag, she admitted this one meant most because, bizarrely, she is still not totally confident about her own abilities.
“I think I actually enjoyed this one the most, I had a lot of pressure on me to back up what I did last year so I was really hoping I wouldn’t disappoint anyone,” she said. “So winning this one really confirms to me that I can to do it, that I do have the legs to be the best in the world.
“I doubt myself the whole time,” she added. “That’s the kind of person that I am, but I feel really good about my form.”
Pendleton has now taken a big psychological advantage over her Olympic rivals, one of which will be Australian Anna Meares – the bronze medallist from Athens who is absent from Manchester as she recovers from injury.
“I’m really pleased to be going in with a psychological advantage over all my opponents,” said Pendleton, who added that the women’s field have cranked up the stakes a notch ahead of the Olympics.
“I knew it was going to be harder this year. When you look at the times of the women’s (flying start) 200m, everyone’s stepped up. It’s unheard of for a woman to do 11.0 here until this year, so I’m really pleased with the result.”
Pendleton, the reigning Commonwealth champion who won her first world title at Los Angeles in 2005, is now aiming for a repeat of last year when she won three gold from the sprint, keirin and team sprint.
The women’s keirin will be held on Sunday, and she added: “I’m looking forward to that now.”
© BikeRadar & AFP 2008