OLYMPICS LONDON 2012: Queen Victoria's legacy lives on despite signing off on silver
By James Toney, Sportsbeat, London 2012
QUEEN Victoria's reign is over but her legacy lives on in Laura.
THE LAST ONE: Queen Victoria Pendleton signed off her Olympic career with a silver in the women's individual sprint
After winning keirin gold last week, Victoria Pendleton failed to retain her sprint title at the Olympic velodrome.
She was beaten to the line by Australian arch-rival Anna Meares, the very last person she would not want to lose to in what she said would be the final race of her career.
But Pendleton has done more for British cycling than just win medals, including two Olympic golds and nine world titles.
She has inspired a whole new generation of women cyclists, not least 20-year old Laura Trott.
Trott took up bike racing because of Pendleton and now takes on her mantle after winning two Olympic golds – in the team pursuit and omnium.
“I can’t believe it’s all over and I'm so relieved right now,” said Pendleton.
“I’m a bit overwhelmed by emotion. I would have loved to have won on my final race but I’m glad that it’s all done and I can move on.
"It has been the hardest four years of my life dealing with the pressure and trying to maintain the level from four years ago.
"You could offer me millions, billions of pounds to do it again and I would say no, I could never do that again.
"I will continue cycling to keep fit but that is it.
"I want to go skiing and do normal stuff that I've stayed away from in the last ten years. I'm looking forward to having a life, to getting married.
"Cycling fell on my lap, it was never my dream or ambition. My father was a cyclist and it was a way to spend time with him but I've had so many opportunities open up as a result of being a cyclist."
Pendleton and Meares' careers will forever be defined by their head-to-head record, one of track cycling's great rivalries.
However, always the fighter Pendleton admitted she had been surprised by the decision to disqualify her from the opening race of the final, which she won by just one thousandth of second.
But the commissaries ruled she had infringed Meares – the second time she has fallen foul of their rulings after disqualification in the team sprint.
"As we waited for the medals we had a good solid hug and a good chat about our rivalry," added Pendleton.
"It's been epic and hopefully it's entertained us people. We just reached the peak at the same point of our careers. My racing her and being pushed by her has made me a better cyclist and she's a worthy winner here.
"I don't think there been a rivalry to this level before in track cycling and I don't think there ever will be again.”
Trott paid tribute to her 'hero and idol' after beating experienced American Sarah Hammer to add the Olympic to her world title.
"She's got nothing to be sad about, she's an Olympic champion from these Games and is one of the greatest cyclists ever," she said.
"Vicky is an incredible athlete and person, on and off the track and she's had an amazing career."
© Sportsbeat 2012