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Victoria Pendleton earned the only women's sprint gold medal available in Beijing. She will be able to contest 3 golds in London in 2012.
Initial Olympic qualification goal achieved in Melbourne
Reigning Olympic sprint champion Victoria Pendleton says it's still a case of 'mission accomplished' at the Melbourne Track World Cup despite a slight hiccup in the final of the women's team sprint last night.
Pendleton's 'holder' on the start line let her go a little early and she was on the back foot from the beginning of the event; the effort she was forced to put in costing her a little in the finale of the race for a gold medal.
She's putting the episode down to experience and realises that regardless of how many races she's ridden there's always the chance that mishaps occur.
"I was a little bit annoyed with myself, really... I'm not experienced with what to do in that scenario. Perhaps I should have put my hand up or said something," explained Pendleton. "I felt like he had let go of me before I had to go and I didn't know what to do - I wasn't doing a track stand but a little balancing act!
"It's just a matter of knowing what to do in those situations and cracking on with it. You can't control it and the guy holding me up was probably as nervous as I was so I can't really blame him for that.
With the London Olympics less than the two years away the path to qualification began in Melbourne; Pendleton will go into the 2012 Games as one of the favourites for team sprint gold to add to her collection, which includes a medal of that colour garnered in the individual sprint in Beijing in 2008.
And while there wasn't another World Cup victory to her name after the first night of competition, the goal of gathering points towards qualification was achieved.
"When I say that it's only a World Cup, it's important to qualify top five European nation and we've obviously done that today - you've got to remember the positives, really," said Pendleton.
"The hardest thing about Olympic qualification is making sure we're top five European; there are so many strong European nations that it's not worth taking a risk."
Another positive to come out of the event was the form of emerging sprint star Jessica Varnish, who continues to impress with her performances at an increasingly-high level of competition. "In such a short period of time she's made such massive gains and she's still improving..." said Pendleton.
"We've been training hard and been in the gym this week, still working towards this strength phase, so for us to be going as well as we had been going at Worlds - she's definitely going better than we were at Worlds - it's really positive and I'm really looking forward to building on our team sprint experience and making the relationship work even better."
Pendleton assured that her reported injury - a slight back muscle strain - before the Melbourne meet hasn't been a setback for training or racing. "It was just one of those things that happens in training - I'm not in very robust physical form, shall we say, and I do a lot of strength training," she said.
"It's such a fine line between getting the most out of yourself and injuring yourself. Your back gets tired quite easily on the bike and I just had a little niggle. I got a little bit of treatment and was told it was going to be a little sore for a few days... but I'm not too worried about it. It comes with the territory."