Olympic pursuit champion leaves British national team
British Cycling confirmed that Rebecca Romero has made the decision to leave Great Britain's Olympic programme. The Olympic Pursuit champion of the 2008 Beijing Games will thus not be part of the British line-up at the 2012 Olympic Games in London.
"Having suffered several setbacks at crucial points, I believe I'm no longer on a pathway which will see me fulfill my Olympic ambition to win a second gold medal. I'm proud to have contributed to the cycling team's great Olympic triumph in Beijing and, I thank all the amazing people within British Cycling who were central to my success. I wish my current teammates every success in London next year," Romero stated in a press release.
The 31-year-old, who won the individual pursuit in Beijing three years ago, had to adapt her ambition following the restructuring of Olympic track cycling events in 2009, which excluded the individual pursuit but kept the team pursuit event. "It was a huge blow to her when the UCI decided to abolish the individual pursuit for 2012, that was the event she has always been most suited to," Great Britain's national endurance coach, Dan Hunt, who was Romero's personal coach in 2008 when she won Olympic gold, told the Telegraph.
"[To leave the Olympic programme] was entirely Rebecca's decision. She had worked very hard this summer to try and return to the form and fitness with which she could challenge for a place in the women's team pursuit squad. There were a few injury issues as well which didn't help, and eventually she came to the decision that it wasn't happening."
Romero, who became the first British woman to win Olympic medals in two completely different sports after moving into cycling following a career in rowing, bowed out of the national team in order to make way for other top contenders, according to Hunt.
"The women's team pursuit is a brutal event and one of Great Britain's strongest going into the 2012 Olympics," he said. "We are the reigning world champions and there will be other British girls who don't make it who would be first choices for some squads. Unless you are on the very top of your game, you are simply not going to make it into the squad. Bec's is very astute and knew herself what the score was. The decision was very amicable."
Performance Manager Shane Sutton was disappointed with Romero's withdrawal, but remained confident that the British team would be competitive to defend its Olympic title in the team pursuit. "Rebecca's decision to leave is a great loss to the team and it's a shame to lose an Olympic Champion going into the Olympic year," he said.
"Looking ahead, we have some great young talent in addition to experienced riders in the team pursuit squad, and I'm confident we can remain on track to hit our performance targets in the lead up to and during the London Olympic Games."