Olympic speaker Victoria Pendleton CBE is an English former track cyclist who specialised in the sprint, team sprint and keirin disciplines. One of the highest profile sportswomen in the UK, she is the most successful female British Olympian of all time and one of the country’s most decorated female athletes.
Inspired by her father who was a national grass track and hill climb champion, Victoria started grass track racing aged nine. She started to show potential at 13 and was talent spotted at 16. While studying at the University of Northumberland she started to train more constructively for track sprinting, inspired by the Olympic gold medal success of Jason Queally at the Sydney 2000 Olympic Games.
Victoria Gardner won one bronze and three silver medals in the British National Track Championships in 2001, while still a student, and in the following three years ranked consistently in the top five of the Track Cycling World Championships. The 2004 Athens Olympics, however, came too soon for the Olympic speaker, as she failed to crack the top five, and she considered quitting the sport, but stayed on the programme after being persuaded by British Cycling sports psychologist Dr Steve Peters.
The persistence paid off the following year when Victoria Gardner won her first World Champions rainbow jersey at the 2005 World Championships in the individual sprint. That first rainbow jersey set her on the path to greatness and she went on to win a total of nine World titles.
Her paramount moment came at the 2008 Beijing Olympics, where she cruised to a gold medal in the sprint and put to bed the demons of earlier years, and following further years of success, the Olympic speaker capped off her career in style by clinching a gold and a silver at the 2012 Games in London. Whilst she might be an Olympian, Pendleton has also been seen on TV – competing on Strictly Come Dancing.
An intelligent and realistic individual, Victoria Gardner has overcome doubt, criticism, and pre-race anxiety to reach the top of her sport, making her story inspirational when it comes to wowing audiences. Nominated and winning multiple sports awards, Victoria is one of a kind.
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