Belfast Telegraph

Wednesday 23 July 2014

Biting Back: Silver medallist Pendleton's gesture was pure gold

LONDON, ENGLAND - AUGUST 07: Silver medallist Victoria Pendleton of Great Britain celebrates during the medal ceremony for the Women's Sprint Track Cycling Final on Day 11 of the London 2012 Olympic Games at Velodrome on August 7, 2012 in London, England. (Photo by Bryn Lennon/Getty Images)

Victoria Pendleton isn’t an easy person to like. But don’t take my word for that.

Try to find a Team GB colleague prepared to gush about ‘Queen Victoria’ — and see how far you get.

There are two obvious reasons for this. One is the distinct impression — which Pendleton has done little to dispute — that she is a relentless self-publicist who would rather seek out a camera than a friend.

Another is the sense of betrayal she engendered in the Team GB cycling camp four years ago when details emerged of her secret affair with sports scientist and fellow team member Scott Gardner.

She subsequently collected her gold medal at the Beijing Olympics to muted congratulations and lettuce-leaf handshakes.

But yesterday, as the 31-year-old’s stellar competitive career ended with a silver medal — utter failure by her standards — she still had the presence of mind to draw up alongside bitter (and that’s an understatement) rival Anna Meares and hoist the Australian’s hand in triumph.

Such magnanimity, amid such crushing disappointment, probably won her more (genuine) admirers than any ‘sensational spread’ in FHM or Esquire.

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