LONDON 2012: Houvenaghel adamant she'll be ready if given the nod
WENDY Houvenaghel was still finding her feet in international cycling when she claimed Olympic silver in Beijing four years ago - but she insists that she will be better prepared this time around.
HERE COME THE GIRLS: Wendy Houvenaghel, left, poses with Dani King and Laura Trott at the 2011 World Championships
The 37-year-old only joined British Cycling's Olympic podium plan in 2006 but claimed individual pursuit silver in the Chinese capital two years later behind fellow Brit Rebecca Romero.
However the individual pursuit is no longer on the Olympic schedule, with Houvenaghel's medal hopes at London 2012 now solely in the team pursuit, where she will face competition from Jo Rowsell for the final spot in the team alongside Laura Trott and Dani King.
Houvenaghel, the one constant as Britain claimed three world titles in four years between 2008 and 2011, was the unlucky fourth member of the British team that took another global title in April.
However, despite that disappointment, she insists she is more ready than ever to take on the world in London.
She said: "This time around I feel I am a lot more prepared for the competition. Last time I learned a lot throughout the whole process, and I feel in a much better position this time around.
"Just taking into consideration the humanity of the competition itself, and how much press interest there will be this time, will make it feel very different.
"There was a lot of press interest in Beijing, but it just so much more increased now. Dealing with that aspect is a job in itself.
"But we must always remember that we're here to perform and produce the best performance we can as a team. That's something that we're very focused on as a team and we're thrilled to be close to doing so."
Having come into the sport late, Houvenaghel is well-aware of how the current British team measures up to those at previous Games.
And she insists that rather than adding extra pressure, the fact that she is part of arguably the greatest Olympic cycling squad of all time brings an added inspiration.
She added: "It's as exciting as it's ever been. The Olympic Games is the pinnacle of all our sporting careers and to be taking part in second Olympics is exciting. It's an experience I'm looking forward too.
"Most of the athletes have got their own pressure that they bring on themselves from within. Just having our friends and family supporting us will bring us an added advantage.
"We have the privilege of being in the best team within history, with regards to cycling. So as a team, we are inspired by those around us, but we are very focused on our own performance.
"We will predominantly be working on us and it's fantastic that we have these role models to inspire us."
© Sportsbeat 2012