OLYMPICS LONDON 2012: Varnish in awe to join Pendleton
By Barrie White, Sportsbeat, London 2012
GREAT Britain cyclist Jess Varnish will be alongside Beijing poster girl Victoria Pendleton as they try to claim the first-ever Olympic women’s team sprint gold in London.
MEDAL PROSPECT: Jess Varnish joins Olympic champion Victoria Pendleton on track
The event was added to the Olympic schedule for London 2012 as cycling's world governing body strove for gender equality - adding both the women's team sprint and the women's keirin.
Pendleton and Varnish broke the world record at the Olympic Velodrome in February, only to see their mark lowered at the World Championships in Melbourne by German pair Kristina Vogel and Miriam Welte.
It’s been a rapid rise through the ranks for 21-year-old Varnish, who confessed that her teammate used to have pride of place on her bedroom wall, but with her first Olympics race now days, rather than weeks or months away, she insists the pressure is not getting to her.
“I’ve always looked up to Vicky. I once had her poster on my bedroom wall as Victoria Pendleton, world champion,” said Varnish.
“But now I’m going to compete alongside her, which feels very surreal, but I believed I can do it, so I just want to deliver the goods in the actual competition.
“It feels really real now. Team GB are all in a great position. Obviously I can only talk for the cyclists.
“Everyone seems really positive and excited for it.
“That it’s a home Olympics makes it more exciting. I can’t compare it as I’ve never been to the Olympics before, but I know for a fact that it’s not going to get much bigger than a home Olympics, and I’m very lucky to be at the right age to compete at my home Olympics. It’s not going to get any bigger than this.”
After their success at the Olympic Test event in February Pendleton and Varnish could only manage fourth at the World Championships in Melbourne.
And with multiple Olympic gold medallists and all-conquering Tour de France winner Bradley Wiggins joining her in the British team, Varnish insists she has already proven herself by making the Games.
She added: “After the worlds, I just went back to a lot of strength training because it’s where I saw a lot of my gains were going to be. Training has been going really well.
“I’m in the same team as Bradley Wiggins and Mark Cavendish, and the same support team, which will show me I’m in the best cycling team, though I don’t need that to prove it, I already know I am. It makes it even more real.”
© Sportsbeat 2012