Victoria Pendleton would love to put tears aside and end her amazing cycling career on a personal high at the Olympics
“It made me cry,” Victoria Pendleton says through a helpless laugh on another rainy Sunday morning in Wilmslow. The pancakes and strawberries on the breakfast table give more of a summery shine to the day than the brooding sky outside. Yet, just weeks before she defends her Olympic sprint cycling title in London, Pendleton’s tears relate to a film about her tumultuous career rather than the miserable British weather or her deeply personal sporting quest.
Pendleton recently watched the BBC documentary sparked by a Guardian interview she and I did in the wake of her winning gold at the Beijing Olympics. The film will be screened on Wednesday, but back in October 2008, soon after annihilating Anna Meares of Australia in the Olympic final, Pendleton emerged as a fascinatingly complex and brutally honest woman.
Instead of trading in evasive cliches, Pendleton bared her soul. The Guardian headline consisted of a stark quote: “I’m striving for something I’ll never achieve – I’m a mess.”
She does not look a mess this morning. In strict training for London 2012, Pendleton watches cheerfully while her fiance, Scott Gardner, piles pancakes on my plate rather than hers. But she also remembers how the film unleashed such emotion inside her. “As weird as it is it to see yourself on screen it made everything we’ve been through seem very real. And, well, London is only weeks away now.”