Victoria Louise Gardner is an English former track cyclist who specialised in the sprint, team sprint and keirin disciplines.
Pendleton represented Great Britain and England in international competition, winning nine world titles including a record six in the individual sprint competition, dominating the event between 2005 and 2012. Pendleton is a former Olympic, European and Commonwealth champion. In 2012 she won the gold medal in the keirin at the 2012 Summer Olympics, as well as silver in the sprint.
She was appointed Member of the Order of the British Empire (MBE) in the 2009 New Year Honours and Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE) in the 2013 New Year Honours for services to cycling.
During her cycling career Pendleton was often bullied for looking “girly”, she explained. “There was a Russian sprinter who would pinch my bum as I walked past mocking me – [as if to say] you’re a girl in this world, what are you doing? I’ve had people say to me: you’re too girly, too small, too puny, you don’t have the natural acceleration. Which has been a really big battle.” Pendleton admitted to self-harming. She said the pressure to win and fear of failure led to her cutting her arms with a Swiss army knife until a ‘soothing numbness’ spread through her body.
Strictly must be a walk in the park compared to the intimidation tactics Pendleton experienced when she competed internationally. As well as being verbally bullied, she was often spat at on the track. “I was a target perhaps because I look fragile and people do tend to pick on somebody who looks a little bit weaker than themselves. Maybe I didn’t look like I was going to fight back. [My attitude was] I don’t need to respond because my legs will do the talking.”
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