Girls4Gold Ambassador Victoria Pendleton fulfilled her ambition of becoming Olympic Champion in the sprint event in Beijing last week. Pendleton was unbeaten in the rounds leading to the final, where she faced the reigning Olympic Champion from the Athens Games in 2004, Anna Meares of Australia. Pendleton put in a classy performance to take the Olympic crown, beating her opponent with ease. Pendleton said:
“I had to come here with a lot of pressure on me, because people expected me to win the medal – I’m the ‘golden girl’ here in track. It’s gone so well over the last few weeks, it’s been a dream come true. It’s been awesome.”
Victoria Pendleton is a true inspiration to all of the Girls4Gold applicants, many of whom attended a phase one talent assessment event in Loughborough over the weekend. Over 250 young women were put through their paces in the hope that they may demonstrate the potential for success at the London Games in 2012.
Speaking at the launch of the Girls4Gold talent identification initiative back in June, Pendleton said:
“It will be fantastic to recruit more girls to try out for cycling and the other Olympic sports. I’m confident we will find some outstanding hidden talent to join us in the team for 2012. I just hope we don’t find anyone better than me!
“'Girls4Gold' is a great initiative that has the potential to unearth future Olympians, and I know first hand the rewards and satisfaction that competing at the top of your game can bring. You’d be mad not to give it a shot – who knows how good you might become?”
Fellow Olympic medallist and Girls4Gold Ambassador Shelley Rudman said:
“I am living proof that medals can be won in a new sport in a very short timeframe. I won my Olympic medal less than four years after first trying the sport of bob skeleton. I was already a track hurdler, so I guess I had a head start and was able to transfer my abilities to the skeleton discipline.
“This is a once in a lifetime opportunity for sporty girls out there to see if they can do the same, and take their talent to the next level.”
Victoria Pendleton joined team mates Rebecca Romero and Emma Pooley in the group of Beijing Olympic medal winners from the sport of cycling. Romero and Pooley are both relative newcomers to the sport, having only taken it up three years ago. Like Shelley Rudman, Romero and Pooley are living proof that girls with a strong sporting background could reach the podium at London 2012 in a new sport, if they train hard and get world class support.
After the fantastic effort made by the applicants at the testing days in Bath and Loughborough, UK Sport and the English Institute of Sport are looking forward to welcoming more Girls4Gold applicants to Manchester this weekend and hoping to discover some talented Girls4Gold to follow in Victoria Pendleton’s footsteps.
Girls4Gold Project Manager Natalie Dunman, a Talent ID Scientist from the English Institute of Sport, said:
"Our team of sports scientists and coaches have been pleased with the standard of the applicants so far, having seen some very impressive performances in Loughborough and Bath. With London 2012 on the horizon there has never been a better time to be involved in elite sport and all of these girls really are up for the Olympic challenge."