My Secret Life: Victoria Pendleton, Olympic cyclist, 30


My parents were... a great support. My dad used to drive me all round the country for races and training, and my mum always ensured I had a packed lunch.

The house/flat I grew up in... was very competitive. I was competitive about absolutely everything with my twin brother and older sister.

When I was a child I wanted to be... a vet, but realised I wasn't intellectual enough.

If I could change one thing about myself... I wish I had more self-belief. And I wouldn't mind being two or three inches taller either.

You wouldn't know it but I'm very good at... sewing, dressmaking – arts and crafts full stop.

You may not know it but I'm no good at... hiding my emotions – both good and bad, though mainly the bad ones!

At night I dream of... being chased. I don't know why, but I'm always on the run in my dreams. Though last night I dreamt I found my rabbit, who died years ago.

What I see when I look in the mirror... A lack of symmetry.

I wish I'd never worn... pink leggings as a teenager, with a matching headband. They were pretty bad. It was the 1990s...

My favourite item of clothing is... a Stella McCartney black blazer I bought myself.

It's not fashionable but I like... mittens – they aren't that cool on an adult, are they? And on a piece of string is even better, because you can't lose them then.

I drive... a Land Rover Freelander, with all the dog accessories. I've got two Dobermans, so it needs to be a big car.

My house is... small and homely. I like decorations; it's probably quite girly. It is full of things that don't match, but I like that.

My favourite work of art... I really like Titian. There's one at the National Gallery, with lots of mythological beings. The colours are really full-on; it's like a dream.

My favourite building... There's a village called Old Warden, and it's like a chocolate-box village full of lovely thatched buildings.

My secret crush is... My only crush is on my fiancé Scott – he heard that and just made a throwing-up noise. Well, if he's not an option, Hugh Jackman is pretty dishy.

Movie heaven... Anything with a happy ending, that at some point makes you cry.

A book that changed me... The Buddha In Daily Life: An Introduction to the Buddhism of Nichiren Daishonin, by Richard Causton. It's about a certain type of modern-day Buddhism, and the concepts are really easy to understand. It's a very reassuring book. I also recently read The Reluctant Mullah by Sagheer Afzal. It was really eye-opening and took me on a rollercoaster of emotions.

The last album I bought/downloaded... This is War by Thirty Seconds to Mars.

My greatest regret... I wish I'd said thank you to my grandparents more.

My real-life villain... Probably me!

The last time I cried... was on Christmas Day, visiting my granddad in hospital.

My five-year plan... Go to the Olympics, obviously. Do well. Retire. Get married, be happy! Oh, and find a new job, actually – that's pretty important.

What's the point? Asking someone who rides in circles for a living, that's a difficult question... I hope it's to live happily ever after.

My life in six words... Challenging, physical, guilty, high-speed, incomplete... I don't think it's started yet so I can't really say!

A life in brief

Victoria Pendleton was born on 24 September, 1980. She was encouraged to cycle from a young age by her father, and in 2005, won her first World Championship gold medal. At the 2008 Beijing Olympics, Pendleton won gold in the Women's Individual Sprint, and she was awarded an MBE in the 2009 New Year's Honours List. Pendleton has also worked with Hovis to develop a 'Stop Snacking' Facebook app: facebook.com/hovisbakery. Pendleton lives with her fiancé in Wilmslow, Cheshire.

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