Video: Mildenhall club where Victoria Pendleton trained celebrates her career
AFTER two Olympic gold medals, nine world titles and a Commonwealth Gold, Victoria Pendleton’s career of more than 20 years is over.
The 31-year-old, who first learned to race on the grass tracks of Mildenhall Cycling Club (MCC), left to a rapturous reception in London and Suffolk.
But it was her old rival Anna Meares who took the Olympic crown, defeating Pendleton in the final in two straight rounds and leaving her with a silver medal.
Mark Burchett, chairman of MCC, who watched Pendleton grow from a six-year-old to a teenager who could defeat all-comers, said he was “immensely proud” at what she had achieved.
“We are massively proud. It goes without saying, because Vic’s success is all about her commitment.
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“We say to all our youngsters that she came through our club and if they put in the work, they are all capable of this.
“She had basic talent and you could see that she was far stronger than girls her own age, she used to beat the boys, but no one can achieve like she has without hard work and dedication.”
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Nearly all of MCC’s 75 members packed into their Wamil Way clubhouse, wearing the same jersey that had once graced Pendleton’s slim shoulders and waving union flags.
But with signed pictures of the cycling star looking down from the walls, the golden farewell was never to be.
After she won the first heat by the width of a tyre she was judged to have veered out of her lane in the final few metres of the run. Boos rang around the velodrome and the small clubhouse when her relegation was announced.
It looked a close call as Meares had been the one to make contact with Pendleton.
Minutes later she attempted to win the second heat charging in front with one and a half laps to go but could not hold the pace as Meares chased her down to win gold.
Groans of disappointment in Mildenhall were quickly replaced with applause, as the club’s riders reflected on a sporting great who will always be counted as one of their own.
Mr Burchett, who works with Pendleton’s father Max, said: “She was, and still is, quite unassuming. I don’t think she’s really changed.
“She has done so much for the sport and for women in the sport. Since the Olympics started we’re having membership requests every day.”