TAKE FIVE: Picture Portrait of Mildenhall’s Golden Girl Victoria Pendleton who has taken London 2012 by storm
VICTORIA Pendleton issued a stunning statement of intent yesterday as she aims to bring the curtain down on her career with another Olympic gold medal around her neck.
The 31-year-old looked in the shape of her life as she smashed her own Olympic record in women’s sprint qualification before cruising through her round-of-32 and last-16 races at the London Velodrome.
Ekaterina Gnidenko of Russia made the mistake of showing Pendleton the inside of the track three-quarters of a lap from home while in the next round Willy Kanis of the Netherlands was outmotored on her outside.
And with a gold already in the bag from the keirin on Friday evening, Pendleton will be within reach of a second tomorrow (Tuesday) should she progress from this evening’s quarter-final against Olga Panarina of Belarus. Adamant that she will retire after the Games, Pendleton said that she is in no mood to relinquish the title she won in Beijing four years ago before she pedals into the sunset.
Victory would be the perfect way to sign off for the nine-time world champion, and just as compatriot Jason Kenny had done in the men’s sprint the previous day, Pendleton broke the Olympic best to qualify fastest for the knockout rounds.
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Timed from a flying start over 200 metres, Pendleton’s 10.724 seconds improved her own mark of 10.963 set in Laoshan Velodrome four years ago.
Anna Meares, too, dipped under the old record and – also like Kenny, who had France’s Gr�gory Baug� behind him as second fastest qualifier – Pendleton’s nearest challenger for gold would appear to be her long-time rival.
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Meares, the Australian with whom she has traded world titles since Beijing, progressed with ease, as did China’s Guo Shuang, who won the sprint at the London test event in February and nearly hijacked Pendleton’s party in Friday’s keirin.
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