Victoria Pendleton

victoria pendleton

Victoria Pendleton, born 24 September, 1980; British track World Champion

Once described by her French Canadian coach as being unsuited for cycling; on meeting her, he said “You’re too skinny, too puny to be a sprint cyclist.”, Victoria Pendleton has gone onto win 3 world Championships, and is currently one of the world’s leading female track cyclists.

Born in Stotfold, Bedfordshire, her talent in cycling was first recognised by a national coach at the age of 16. However, before devoting her time to cycling full time she completed a degree in Sport and Exercise Science from Northumbria University, Newcastle upon Tyne.

As a child, Victoria was interested in playing many sports, but without any particular excellence. However, her father Max (a keen cyclist himself) , noted her athletic prowess on the bike and also the desire to win – essential to make it to the top of any sport. Her father, played a key role in her early development, encouraging her to train and aspire for continual improvement. It is clear that Victoria appreciates the effort and support of her father, even if the early training was not always easy.

‘I didn’t love it some of the time. Some of the time I hated it and wanted to give up. But I’m so glad I didn’t, because otherwise I wouldn’t have had the opportunities I have now.’

Victoria began cycling full time in 2002, after finishing her degree. Her typical training regime includes two training sessions per day; one in the morning of 2-3 hours and another in the afternoon 2-5. After her first 2 years of full time training and top level competition, Victoria had become a realistic contender for the 2004 Olympics. However, as Victoria admitted, the stress of the occasion got to her and to her great disappointment under-performed at the Athens Olympics. Speaking in an interview to the Guardian she described the unique atmosphere of the Olympic village and the underlying stress that the athletes faced.

‘I was totally under-prepared to be in a competition at that level, psychologically and physically. I’d been basically thrown to the lions.’

At one stage she was so demotivated by the experience that she considered retiring from the sport. However, Victoria decided to persevere and with the benefit of experience and a more detached perspective went on to become world champion at the 2005 World Championships.

Life as a professional cyclist.

Despite being a triple world champion, Victoria does not exaggerate the glamour of being a pro cyclist. As she modestly states ‘My life seems quite dull – I ride around in circles’ Like any professional athlete, the lifestyle is intrinsic to success on the track. It means a careful diet, no alcohol and no late nights.

In a sport that is noted for masculinity and bulging muscles, Victoria perhaps makes an unexpected track champion. Her slimline athletic figure has helped glamorise a sport, not always noted for feminine qualities of beauty. For example, in a sport where competitors can become encouraged to goto obsessive lengths to improve performance (One thinks of Chris Boardman shaving his arms when going for the world hour record.), Victoria is one of the few seemingly happy to keep her long hair (despite the minor aerodynamic drag) – However, whatever image Victoria may portray off the track, nothing should detract from her dedication to the sport which enabled her to become a triple world champion in the 2007 World Championships.

In 2008, Victoria will be defending her world titles at the UCI world Championships before taking part in the 2008 Beijing Olympics. This year the world championships will be held at Manchester – her local track.

2008 World Track Championships

Victoria Pendleton won 2 gold medals and 1 silver medal. She won gold in the individual sprint title (setting a new British record of 10.904secs) and also gold in the team sprint with Shanaze Reade. In the final event, the Keirin, Victoria narrowly missed out finishing in second place. Video at BBC

Off Track Career P

As well as gaining recognition on the track, Victoria has gained a high profile through numerous a couple of photo shoots. The first photo showed her in an attractive black dress on her bike. It was certainly a different perspective on a track cyclist, where tight fitting lycra and bulging muscles are more common. Speaking about the photo shoot, Victoria said:

“I knew when I did the shoot it would stir up opinion, people would be for or against, but I don’t regret the picture at all… Actually I was quite please with the picture, people could see what I am about, that I am not just a track cyclist.” (Daily Telegraph interview 26/03/08)

More recently, Victoria agreed to pose for the Guardian newspaper magazine in a shot reminiscent of a former photo of Lance Armstrong. – Wearing no clothes, but strategically taken.

It’s no surprise that at the 2008 World Championships, Victoria receive more media inquiries than all the other British Athletes put together.- Glamour, beauty and gold medals, an appealing combination.

2008 Beijing Olympics

In the Beijing Olympics, Victoria Pendleton  won her first Olympic gold in the individual sprint.

Victoria Pendleton

Victoria Pendleton after 2008 Beijing Olympics. Photo Suede Bicycle [1]

In the 2008 World Track Championships she was also first place in Sprint and also first in Team Sprint (with Shanaze Reade).

2009 / 2010

Victoria Pendleton

Victoria Pendleton photo Dulhunk, Flickr [2]

Victoria continued her impressive run of Sprint Golds. She won sprint gold in World Championships in both 2009 and 2010. She also finished 2nd in the Kierin World Track Championships. In 2009, she was also awarded an MBE in the New Years’ honours list.

Victoria Pendleton 2012 London Olympics

Victoria Pendleton has said that London 2012 Olympics will be her final major track final. Changes to the Olympic schedule, mean she competed in three track sprint competitions – team sprint, Kierin and individual sprint.  Pendleton told BBC Sport.

Team Sprint

In the team sprint with Jess Varnish, the pair were relegated to 8th place after making an illegal changeover. It was unfortunate because they had just set a record time and would have qualified for the final

“We were probably just a bit too eager. It’s one of those things. “It was very unfortunate; it was a mistake made in a fraction of a second.”


In the Keiren, Pendleton won the gold medal after beating a challenge from Anna Meares and Guo of China. Lee of Hong Kong finished 3rd.

  1. Victoria Pendleton GBR 10.965 (final 250metres)
  2. Shuang Guo CHN
  3. Lee Wai Sze HKG



photo top: johnthescone from Sheffield

photo middle: Tim Redgrove (c)

17 Responses to Victoria Pendleton

  1. lynda Arnold May 15, 2009 at 9:31 am #

    I am a ‘mature’ PE teacher who has hopefully inspired young people to get involved with sport. it is wonderful to be able to share the success of the likes of Victoria and Chris with my students. In National Sports week on july 1st we have our annual Sports Awards Evening. How wonderful it would be to have a top cyclist to present awards. is there anyone out there who can help me to achieve this? I am not sure where to start finding out. My school is in Cheshire, nit far from the national training centre and down the road from alsager where i know cyclists have trained. can anyone help?

  2. solty April 4, 2009 at 9:51 pm #

    yo hi just whant to say how easy chris hoy and victoria pendelton make track cycerling look aspesherly viki because i went for my fist taster seshon to day i loved it but its a bit scery i did’nt go up the bank but i hopefully will next time i loved it keep up the good work victoria peessssss cho goodbye.

  3. Arjun Kugathas December 22, 2008 at 12:43 pm #

    heya vicky… well done on winning gold medals and for all the success that youve had…. youve had such a major influence on my cycling career making me train even harder and faster qualifying me for GB trials.. soo yeah thank you.. would you also mind sending me a signed photo of yourself to the address
    25 fowler road,
    CR4 2lQ

    take care
    and all the best of luck

  4. ray hadley September 7, 2008 at 2:14 pm #

    dear victoria, well done on winning gold think your fab,would you please send me a signed photo of yourself and keep up the good work,hopefully more medals for you soon ,all the very best many thanks ray xxx

  5. andrew haworth taylor August 29, 2008 at 2:38 pm #

    dear victoria , well done for the gold !!! could you ask max your dad to send me a signed photo to my address as follows 11,fontwell park gardens,hornchurch,essex Rm126da, many thanks and well done xxx


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