Pendleton aiming for golden swansong
Victoria Pendleton training at the Velodrome
Team GB cycling star Victoria Pendleton is determined to retire on a high at the London 2012 Olympic Games, the final competition of her career.
From August 8, the 31-year-old from Bedfordshire, will have officially retired, but first she hopes to sign off by adding to the Olympic sprint title she claimed in Beijing.
Pendleton is set to ride in the two-woman, two-lap team sprint alongside Jess Varnish in the opening action at the velodrome today, with the keirin tomorrow and the sprint beginning on Sunday. She believes she has never been in better shape, setting considerable personal bests in training, but there will be no retirement U-turn.
"I am definitely in better form than I ever have been entering a major competition," said Pendleton, who was coy on her future plans, having signed a confidentiality agreement.
"I thought in Beijing I was at the peak of my physical performance, but to get here in the best form of my life... you could not ask for any better. If the Olympics had been in any other city I would have called it a day. There have been times when I thought it was not possible to get this far, but I have made my decision and will stick to it.
"Finishing on a home Olympics, there is nothing that could inspire me more. Maybe only if they had held the Olympics in my home town of Stotfold."
Pendleton won sprint gold at April's Track Cycling World Championships, scoring a sensational semi-final win over Anna Meares of Australia, and the duel is set to resume in London. Pendleton and Meares are set to first meet in the team sprint, where the Briton is set to combine with Varnish and the Australian with Kaarle McCulloch.
Pendleton and Varnish set the world record in February's Track World Cup in London, but finished fourth in Melbourne when Varnish was ill and Germany lowered the mark.
Varnish said: "The test event was massive and we managed to do very well and hopefully the Olympics will be the same. In Melbourne I had somebody shout in my ear less than 10 seconds from the start: 'Aussie, Aussie, Aussie, Oi, Oi, Oi'.
"That won't happen in London and if it does the fans need to sort it out. There is definitely a big home advantage."
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