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Victoria Pendleton swaps laps for lances in jousting session

The gold medal-winning cyclist was put through her paces at Kenilworth Castle, Warwickshire.

Olympic champion Victoria Pendleton has swapped her bicycle for a horse, a suit of armour and a 12ft lance to test out jousting.

The gold medal-winning cyclist was put through her paces by English Heritage’s expert jousters at a special training session at Kenilworth Castle, Warwickshire, to try “England’s first national sport”.

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(Christopher Ison/English Heritage/PA)

Following in the footsteps of medieval knights, she donned armour weighing 45kg (99lb) and practised galloping towards her opponent at 30mph, with just a narrow slit in her helmet to see through.

After launching English Heritage’s “Medieval Knights Season” by becoming the charity’s latest jouster, she said the sport deserved a place at the Olympics.

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(Christopher Ison/English Heritage/PA)

Last year, English Heritage launched a campaign for jousting to be recognised as an Olympic sport.

Ms Pendleton said: “I’ve seen at first-hand how physically fit you need to be to joust and the sheer skill and strength involved.

“It’s just as physically exerting as competitive cycling or horse-racing. Jousting definitely deserves its place at the Olympic table.”

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(Fabio De Paola/PA)

She said the hardest part of jousting was lowering the heavy lance into position while cantering, and she was surprised how little sense of the environment around her she had while wearing armour and riding the horse.

“I will joust again. Practice makes perfect – and I need a lot of practice,” she added.

Dominic Sewell, English Heritage’s expert jouster, said: “Jousting isn’t easy. Riding horses is hard, wearing armour is hard, carrying a lance is hard. Doing all these things at once while trying to strike your opponent is even more difficult.

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(Christopher Ison/English Heritage/PA )

“But Victoria exceeded our expectations, she was absolutely brilliant and we are delighted she’s on the English Heritage team.”

English Heritage is hosting jousts at its castles across England this summer, while children have opportunities to get involved with hobby horse jousting, sword skills and trying on armour.

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