The members of the Sports Journalists' Association of Great Britain (SJA) have voted Victoria Pendleton their Sportswoman of the Year. The presentation of the trophy took place in London on Wednesday, December 12, in front of a star studded assembly of sportsmen and sportswomen as well as journalists from national and regional newspapers, TV and radio. Pendleton shared the top honours with motor racing's Louis Hamilton, who won the SJA Sportsman of the Year Award.
Pendleton scooped most votes in recognition of her winning three world championship titles on the track in Mallorca last March: keirin, sprint and team sprint. Despite challenging performances by many other top sportswomen during the summer and more recently, nobody could produce the impact of this multiple championship performance which took her onto the platform where two years ago she was merely asked to present an award to British Cycling's chief coach Dave Brailsford. Now, she was there in her own right and thanked UK Sport and British Cycling as well as her personal coach Shane Sutton for their support.
"It's really flattering," said the 27 year-old from Stotfold in Hertfordshire. "I know where track cycling lies in terms of the UK's sports popularity so it is really nice that the journalists have given me support and recognition. When I came back from the world championships, I was really surprised by how many reports there were about my success in a variety of newspapers right across the board. It was quite a joy being in the airport and looking through the news stand seeing my big lollipop helmet head in all the papers."
Watched by proud father Max and mother Pauline, the British team sprinter announced that she would be aiming for four gold medals at the next track cycling world championships in Manchester at the end of March next year. "If my timetable allows it, then I will go for four," Pendleton announced. "We will have to wait and see but we have got one day extra to spread the events over so it should work out a lot easier." Her main objective for the year will, however, be the Olympic Games in Beijing where she will only have one discipline in which she can compete, the sprint.
Pendleton just returned from China where she raced in a World Cup meeting but was knocked off in the keirin final, fortunately without major injury. She won this event the previous week in the Sydney World Cup in Australia, and only returned to the UK the day before the London SJA presentation. While away, she missed the ceremony to present her with the Sunday Times Sportswoman of the Year Award.