QUEEN VICTORIA; Tonight Could See Pendleton Crowned as Britain's Greatest Ever Female Olympian, Providing the Perfect Finale to Her Career
Byline: James Olley at the Velodrome
F Jessica Ennis is the face of London 2012 then Victoria Pendleton is the legs. Cycling has long been a cornerstone of Great Britain's medal success and tonight the 31-year-old has a chance to end her career by rewriting the history books and become the first British woman ever to win three Olympic golds.
Pendleton restored order after a calamitous disqualification in the team sprint last week by claiming the keirin title and she can tip the balance in her favour by successfully negotiating the individual sprint beginning with this afternoon's semi-final against Germany's Kristina Vogel.
With due respect to Vogel, Pendleton has the form and class to advance, meaning old foe Anna Meares, who first faces Shuang Guo of China, is expected to be the principal obstacle to achieving her dream.
Pendleton thrashed Meares in Beijing. She sat up in her saddle coming out of the final turn to watch the Briton blaze off into the promised land of Olympic glory.
Two years later, in a World Cup event, Meares triumphed for the first time against Pendleton in five years. Buoyed by that success, she reclaimed the 2011 world sprint title with Pendleton taking bronze. The placings were reversed in April after Pendleton spent much of 2011 revising her training schedule to include more weights work to give her even greater durability allied to ferocious pace.
The momentum appears to be with Pendleton and she has reached this stage in emphatic fashion, crushing Olga Panarina, of Belarus, in last night's quarter-final with ease.
Jason Kenny won the men's version last night and is confident Great Britain will be celebrating an individual sprint double as the track cycling climaxes this evening.
"Vicky has shown she has got some gas, there is no doubt about it," he said.
"She has been on fire and smoked them in the quarter-finals.
"She was head and shoulders ahead and she will go back there, get her head down, start ticking all the boxes and make sure she is in the best possible shape for tonight.
"As far as Anna Meares goes, she is obviously a quality athlete and a world champion herself.
"It is never going to be easy to beat someone like that and with qualifying being three days before the final, a lot can change in that time how you pull up from the race, for example. …