Anna Meares pays tribute to Victoria Pendleton's 'great sportsmanship'

 

Australia's gold medal winning cyclist Anna Meares paid tribute to her beaten opponent Victoria Pendleton today.

Pendleton and Meares have had a fierce rivalry which now appears to have ended as the Briton wants to start a family and has declared her intention to retire.

Pendleton has won two Olympic golds - one in Beijing and one in London - but had to settle for silver against Meares last night.

The two track foes embraced after Pendleton lost out in the gold medal contest.

Meares said today: "Last night Victoria showed great sportsmanship. It would have been very difficult to have been beaten in front of a home crowd, especially one as patriotic and as loud as that.

"It (the embrace) happened so promptly after she was defeated that it was instant reaction and it showed the high-quality character and person that Victoria is.

"I think that private moment between the two of us gave us a bit of a break from being so tentative towards each other as a result of some of the media hype that had been surrounding us."

Meares also paid tribute to the velodrome crowd, although she was less impressed by her treatment by some elements of the press.

She said: "I was a little disappointed in that because I know I'm a good person, a good athlete and a good sport and those are qualities I would have loved to have been portrayed to the British public as opposed to what was.

"To race in front of the crowd was something unique. The decibel measure that was taken was about 114 and 95% of that was aimed towards Victoria. I was very nervous and I'm glad I dyed my hair before the competition because I would have gone grey."

Sprinter Meares hopes she will be able to have a chat some time with Pendleton whose defeat was a rare reverse in the velodrome for Team GB.

She said: "We would have to see if our paths cross because they only really do in competition. This is her home country so I'm sure she is out filling time with family and friends so I'm not sure if our paths will cross but I'm sure that if they do we will have the chance to sit down and catch up.

"Having that moment last night broke the ice more than anything."

PA

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