Father reveals Victoria’s relief

GOLDEN GIRL: Victoria Pendleton on the podium after winning the women's keirin
GOLDEN GIRL: Victoria Pendleton on the podium after winning the women's keirin
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MAX Pendleton, father of cycling royalty Victoria Pendleton, has revealed his daughter’s ‘relief’ at stepping away from the track, despite believing she could rule for another five years, including the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

The 31-year-old bowed out on Tuesday in front an adoring London 2012 Velodrome crowd that included Max, as well as twin brother Alex and older sister Nicola Jane.

Her last ever race was an eagerly-anticipated women’s individual sprint final with Australian nemesis Anna Meares, who ultimately claimed the mantle and crown of sprint queen, leaving Pendleton with a silver medal in her final farewell.

The emotion-driven last ride capped a dramatic Games for the nine-time world champion, who had been denied a shot at gold in the team sprint last Thursday after overtaking team-mate Jess Varnish too early in their semi-final with Ukraine, before roaring back in Sunday’s keirin final, blowing her opposition away down the back straight to snatch gold, ahead of China’s Guo Shuang and Hong Kong’s Wai Sze Lee.

The nation watched on as Pendleton enjoyed a heart-felt embrace with her proud father on Tuesday and despite believing she could prolong her glittering career, the member of Mildenhall Cycling Club, where Victoria’s career started in 1989, can understand why she has chosen to leave the gruelling world of track cycling.

“She had the expectation of a nation on her and she told me on Friday that she didn’t really want to sit in that pit anymore,” he said.

“I think she could compete for another five years if she wanted to and go to the next Olympics, but the whole thing is extremely pressured, so I think she will be relieved to get away from that.

“The crowd was unbelievable throughout her races and the noise and was out of this world — it was fantastic to be there to witness her final rides.

“She was very disappointed and told me she thought she had let me and everybody down, but as far as I am concerned she has nothing to be disappointed about and certainly hasn’t let anyone down.

“I think when everything settles down she will be proud of what she has achieved — three Olympic medals and nine times a world champion, that is no failure at all.”

Looking ahead, Pendleton is unsure of what the future holds for his daughter, but is in no doubt that the legacy of the greatest female cyclist to grace the track, amassing a total of 19 medals and record six world titles in the individual sprint, will benefit the sport for years to come.

“I honestly don’t know where she will go from here but the world is her oyster,” he added.

“At our club we have about 95 kids and 50 per cent of those are girls, which 10 years ago would have been a miracle.

“That is in no small part played by Victoria and her legacy will see loads more girls like her come through.”