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Houvenaghel quits cycling

Northern Ireland's Wendy Houvenaghel has announced her retirement from competitive cycling after injury ruled her out of a Commonwealth Games swansong.

Houvenaghel, 39, had targeted a final podium appearance in Glasgow before calling time on her track career, but has been forced to withdraw citing an injury suffered in training.

For Houvenaghel, a three-time world champion in the team pursuit and a silver medallist in the individual event at both the Beijing Olympics and 2010 Commonwealths in Delhi, it represents a frustrating end and the second consecutive disappointment at a major competition.

She was left out of Team GB's team pursuit at London 2012 as Laura Trott, Joanna Rowsell and Dani King soared through the event unchanged before taking gold in world record time.

Despite their success, Houvenaghel claimed she had been treated "shabbily" and had been promised a ride. She has not been on British Cycling's funding programme since.

Despite that, she retires to life as a full-time dentist with significant successes on which she can reflect - not least her silver in Beijing, where she came in just behind Rebecca Romero.

She said in a statement: "The past decade of my life has been dedicated to professional cycling and it has, for the most part, been extremely rewarding.

"I have always dedicated myself 100 per cent to my role as a natural professional sportsperson, and I am immensely proud of my consistently high achievements from the beginning.

"It is disappointing to have to withdraw from competition at the Commonwealth Games. However, I would like to wish my Northern Irish team-mates every success with their performances in Glasgow.

"It is never easy to make the final decision to end one's sporting career."

The only hint of any lingering resentment at her previous treatment by Team GB came in a loaded aside.

She added: "For me, this decision has been prompted by a training injury, but I will be returning to a profession which I thoroughly enjoy and where, as a woman in my thirties, I will be treated as an equal.

"In the future, I hope to put something back into the sport, but for now I am looking forward to pursuing my career in dentistry."


From Belfast Telegraph