MF meets GB cyclist Victoria Pendleton

(Image credit: Unknown)

Did the appeal of a home Olympics help with motivation?
Absolutely. Had it not been a home Olympics in 2012, I might not have continued. I felt that in Beijing I’d had the performance of my life and had never been fitter or stronger. I thought maybe that was all I’d got. Having the opportunity to race in a home Olympics, I knew it would be crazy not to give it a go.

How important was team psychiatrist Steve Peters in helping you to prepare?

Steve has put everything in perspective. It’s easy to get caught in a bubble where your whole life is dependent on how fast you can ride round in a circle, which is a bit mad. It doesn’t define me as a human being. I don’t think I could have achieved what I have without Steve. Some people think I’m a little bit mental – Chris Hoy mentions it in his book. But I’m an emotional person and I accept it and learn to control it.

After winning gold in Beijing, was it tough to be the one to beat?

Yes, it was hard. It’s a lot easier when you’re aiming towards something than when you’ve achieved that goal. It’s not physically different, but you have a lot more expectation, and I do sometimes struggle with it, especially if I’ve had a bad training day. 

As a sprint cyclist, you need a lot of power in your legs. What’s the best exercise for that?
The squat is the key for sprinters. Most of the other exercises are back, glutes and quads orientated. We do deadlifts, trap bar deadlifts and cleans, and a lot of explosive exercises combined with step-ups. I work on hip stability and medial glute strengthening as well as general conditioning. My one-rep max for the squat is 130kg. I do Bulgarian squats to maintain leg strength without putting strain on my lower back. I put my leg on a bench behind me and have 32kg dumb-bells in my hands.

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Former contributor

Mark Bailey is a features writer and interviewer who contributed to Coach magazine in 2015 and Men’s Fitness UK, which predated, and then shared a website with, Coach, until 2019. Mark has also written for national newspapers including The Telegraph and The Financial Times Magazine, as well as magazines and websites such as Cyclist and Bike Radar.