Team GB's Victoria Pendleton would have retired if Olympics had not been in London


Team GB cyclist Victoria Pendleton says she would have left the sport if the Olympics had not taken place in London.

The 31-year-old begins the defence of her sprint title this afternoon in the Velodrome and is determined to go out on a high after extending her career to take in the home Games.

“If the Olympics had been in any other city I would have called it a day,” said Pendleton. “There have been times when I thought it was not possible to get this far, but I have made my decision and will stick to it. Finishing on a home Olympics, there is nothing that could inspire me more. Maybe only if they had held the Olympics in my home town of Stotfold.”

Pendleton — who also competes in the individual sprint and keirin — won sprint gold at April’s Track Cycling World Championships, scoring a semi-final win over Anna Meares of Australia, and the duel is set to resume here.

Pendleton and Meares are set to first meet in the team sprint, where the Briton is set to combine with Jess Varnish and the Australian with Kaarle McCulloch.

Varnish is also relishing home advantage. She said: “In Melbourne I had somebody shout in my ear less than 10 seconds from the start: ‘Aussie, Aussie, Aussie, Oi, Oi, Oi’. That won’t happen in London and if it does the fans need to sort it out. There is definitely a big home advantage.”