Family celebrate Victoria's famous win

THE father of a Suffolk cyclist who rode to Olympic glory last night told of his pride at his daughter's success.

Laurence Cawley

THE father of a Suffolk cyclist who rode to Olympic glory last night told of his pride at his daughter's success.

Victoria Pendleton, 27, yesterday scooped the gold medal for the women's sprint at the Beijing Velodrome.

Members of Mildenhall Cycling Club, of which Miss Pendleton is an honorary member, celebrated her achievement.

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One of those members was her father, Max.

Mr Pendleton, who has been a club member for about 20 years and who first introduced his children to cycling through the Mildenhall club, yesterday broke open the champagne with Victoria's sister, Nichola and workmates in Letchworth.

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Mr Pendleton, who runs the cycling race at the annual Mildenhall Cycling Rally, said: “It's pretty damn special, especially after Athens when she felt she'd really failed in a big way. She's a whole different person now. The success of the whole team is staggering. She just phoned up, she said it just doesn't seem real and she was almost in tears.

“I'm not sure when we'll see her but she'll be one of the athletes at the closing ceremony to take the flag for 2012.”

In Mildenhall, her victory was celebrated by others connected with the club.

For Alan Thompson, a former cycle shop owner and founder of Mildenhall Cycling Club, the world champion's Olympic victory was the culmination of a cycling career that started on a tricycle in west Suffolk.

Now club president, Mr Thompson told how he used to repair Miss Pendleton's Triang tricycle when she came over to Mildenhall for races with her father.

“I used to run a bicycle shop in Mildenhall and I can remember fixing her tricycle. She used to ride around on her tricycle here - her connection with the club stretches back over the years. Both her and her twin brother Alex used to ride Triang tricycles. I think Max had a thing about them. I used to have to find the spare bits to mend them.

“It was wonderful - they used to go around the track on their tricycles.”

Mr Thompson said Miss Pendleton was not especially quick on her tricycle but added: “To have seen her win the Olympic gold is wonderful.”

Commenting on her winning race, Mr Thompson said: “She is phenomenal. It is just great isn't it? We are so proud and to have seen her win was just wonderful. She is a totally standard young lady - she is just wonderful. Every time I see her I get a great big hug.”

Barry Archer, chairman of the club, said Miss Pendleton first started turning up at races with her brother and father at the age of about six or seven.

Describing her victory he said: “I was in tears. The whole family joined me to watch her win. When she won the world championships we put her down as an honorary member. Her dad is still a member and still comes down to do the rally.

“She is such a great girl. I was watching the race and when she took off I think her opponent (Anna Meares of Australia) knew there was no matching it.”

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