Victoria Pendleton CBE Olympic and World Track Champion was once described by her coach as being “too skinny and too puny to be a sprint cyclist.” She went on to become one of the world’s best female cyclists, after seven world titles and golds in Beijing and in London. She prefers to participate in Q&A sessions where she talks about the immense physical and psychological challenges faced by elite athletes, her Olympic experiences, magical gold medal winning moments and the lessons she is learning from her new career as a jockey.
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World and Olympic champion Victoria Pendleton CBE began her cycling career on the grass track. At 16 she was was spotted by a national coach but chose to focus on her studies rather than training full time. After school she went to Northumbria University gaining a degree in Sport and Exercise Science and beginning to compete. In 2001 she won four medals in the National Track Championships.
Victoria won her first World Championship title in 2005 taking Gold in the Sprint, an event in which she has dominated ever since winning silver in 2006 and gold in 2007, 2008, 2009 and 2010.
In 2007, Victoria Pendleton made history when she won an unprecedented three world championship gold medals, establishing herself as the world's best female track cyclist. Her achievements were recognised further by winning "The Sunday Times Sportswoman of the Year" award as well as the "Sports Journalists' Association Sportswoman of the Year".
However her achievements in 2007 were topped by 2008's results when she won two gold medals and a silver medal at the World Championships then the ultimate prize in track cycling, the Olympic Gold medal for women's sprint in Beijing.
In 2010 Victoria successfully defended her world champion title in the Sprint for the fourth year on the run.
Victoria regained her title as Sprint World Champion in 2012 after a close fought semi final match with Anna Meares of Australia, the very rider who had de-throned her a year earlier in Apeldoorn. And in London later that year she won Olympic Gold in the Keirin.
In Q&A interview sessions, Victoria Pendleton talks about the immense physical and psychological challenges faced by elite athletes, and the preparation and attitude needed to reach the very top of their game.
She was announced as a recipient of a CBE in the 2013 New Year Honours for services to cycling.
In March 2015 Victoria announced her intention to become a jockey with the aim of competing at the Foxhunter Chase at the 2016 Cheltenham Festival, with guidance from horse trainer Paul Nicholls. She made her competitive debut in August 2015, finishing second in the Betfair Novice Flat Amateur Riders' Handicap at Ripon riding Royal Etiquette. She won her first race on 2 March 2016 guiding 5–4 favourite Pacha Du Polder to victory at Wincanton.
On 18 March 2016, Pendleton, again riding Pacha Du Polder, achieved her ambition of participating in the 2016 Foxhunter Chase, at Cheltenham, outperforming many pundits' expectations by finishing fifth. She described the result as "probably the greatest achievement of my life".