A tearful Victoria Pendleton today declared her sixth Track Cycling World Championships sprint title as the most important of her career as she moved into pole position for the London Olympic Games with victory in Melbourne.
In an extraordinary day at the Hisense Arena, 2008 Olympic champion Pendleton was awarded victory off the bike when race officials relegated her final opponent Simona Krupeckaite of Lithuania, handing the Briton a 2-0 success.
The key to victory was a stunning come-from-behind semi-final triumph over defending champion and perennial adversary Anna Meares of Australia - an epic duel which was full of drama and proved Pendleton's determination for glory at the London Olympics is far from diminished.
Pendleton, who intends to retire after August's Olympic track programme, lost control and crashed in the first bout - suffering abrasions to her right shoulder, elbow and hip - before being granted a reprieve in the second as Meares was adjudged to have impeded her opponent by going outside the sprinters' lane.
The officials' decision set up a deciding contest, which Meares led out on the last of three laps, but Pendleton responded by accelerating around her rival and won in a photo-finish.
“This is probably the most significant and probably the most emotional, being the last time I'm going to do this,” said Pendleton, who regained the title she won in 2005, 2007, 2008, 2009 and 2010.
“It means a lot to me. It probably means as much as the first one (in Los Angeles), which was special, because I never thought I had the ability to be world champion.
“I'm delighted I won but it's nice to win by crossing the line first - relegations always make it a bit weird.
“It's a shame in some respect and it's not great for the crowd either, but they're the rules.”