Following the low point of day one at the London velodrome, when she was disqualified from the Women’s Team Sprint, Victoria Pendleton was in shock after her emphatic win in the women’s Keirin, lighting up the velodrome at the end of a stunning day of riding from her and the Great Britain team.
Pendleton had put the ghosts of day one behind her with a faultless performance in the Women’s Keirin, claiming a richly deserved gold and a massive psychological victory over arch rival Anna Meares ahead of the Match Sprint.
“I can barely believe it right now," said Pendleton, speaking to the BBC shortly after the event. "It was really hard with the excitement with the girls (Team Pursuit) doing a great job and then the guys smashing the world record and winning a gold medal. I was just like ‘focus Vic, focus'."
History will show that Pendleton had no trouble focussing, never troubled once throughout the entire keirin competition, a textbook performance for the Great Britain superstar.
"I think Jan (van Eijden) will have something to say about my tactics," continued Pendleton, "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.”
Pendleton had the psychological edge of beating Meares in the first round and began the final in third wheel, behind the impressive Lee of Hong Kong and Guo of China. With two laps to go Meares lunged to the front and tried to boss it, but half a lap later, Pendleton unloaded on the back straight and hit the front at the bell. The only rider with the legs to respond was Guo, who pressed Pendleton close into the final straight. But Pendleton was on the form of her life and bagged gold, with Guo taking silver. Meares, who’d unloaded too early, slipped back to fifth place, as Pendleton soaked up the huge roar from the partisan crowd.
Summarising for the BBC, Chris Boardman said: "I was really surprised to see Meares get swamped. 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."
Echoing the words of Sir Chris Hoy following Men’s Team Sprint victory the previous day, the 31 year old multiple world and Olympic champion, who retires in a few day’s time, paid tribute to the huge support from the home crowd. "Thank you so much to everyone who’s helped me get here. The crowd have been fantastic, they really helped me today," said Pendleton who was in tears on the podium as she sang the national anthem at the close of play on an incredible day two.
Pendleton continues her sprint quest on Sunday, meeting old rival Anna Meares and the on form Shuang Guo once again in the Match Sprint. Looking ahead to her final event an emotional Pendleton said: “I’m really looking forward to the sprint – I’m hoping that my (200m) time trial will be a little more special than it’s been over the past few years – I’ve been working on it a lot. It’s just going to take confidence. Just rest up tomorrow and come back with a vengeance.”