Pendleton wraps up career by winning inaugural Olympic women’s keirin gold
Event: London 2012 Olympics: Women's Keirin
When: 3 August 2012
Where: Olympic Velodrome, London
How it unfolded
Early in 2012, when Victoria Pendleton announced her intention to retire from top flight cycling, few could have imagined that the 31 year old multiple Olympic and World champion would set the bar so high.
Yet in inimitable style, Pendleton chose to compete in every sprint discipline in front of an adoring home crowd, riding with Jess Varnish in the Team Sprint, contesting the gruelling match sprint and tackling the inaugural Olympic women’s keirin.
This punishing schedule meant that Pendleton had to arrive in London in peak form, which the rider duly delivered, smashing 200m PBs in the final run-in to the Games. Yet it seemed that the Pendleton train was to be derailed on the first day of track competition, with the GB Team Sprint duo of Pendleton and Varnish disqualified from the competition, much to the chagrin of home supporters.
Despite this massive blow, Pendleton dug deep and moved on to the keirin to produce a perfect ten performance. Pendleton was imperious from start to finish, with the confidence and power to ride away from the field in the first round with arch nemesis Anna Meares in tow. In round two, Pendleton repeated the tactic, hitting the front early on and never looking back.
Come the final and many were worried that her earlier long-range lunges for home had emptied the Pendleton tank too much. Such worries were quickly quashed, with Pendleton moving from third wheel as the Derny pulled off, riding around the two leaders and extinguishing an earlier attack from the mighty Meares. Vicky hit the front as the bell tolled and rode a stunning final lap to take Olympic gold, the world’s best keirin riders unable to respond.
What they said
Pendleton: “I think Jan (van Eijden) will have something to say about my tactics but he told me not to look for their race - when it's your moment, just go. I really wanted to show what I could do and it worked out well.”
Boardman: “Pendleton's jump to the front was incredible. Shuang Guo came back at the end but Pendleton held her off. She has got a gold medal to finish her career off, what a way to go out. The sprint is now a bonus for her; she has got what she wants.”
Why should this be British Cycling Ride of the Year 2012?
The final competition of a glittering track career; a once-in-a-lifetime home Olympics; a discipline that had become known as her Achilles heel; a chance to win the first ever women’s keirin gold; huge pressure to perform. On paper, a recipe for disappointment; on track a demonstration of supreme form and total superiority.