I’d forgotten how steep velodromes actually until a visit to Manchester velodrome a few years ago. I was remembering the days as a toddler when I played in the centre of my home town’s velodrome. Sadly today it has been raised to the ground, but my dad gladly assured me the velodrome I recall was never as steep as this beauty at the home of British Cycling.
It was on this stage I caught my first glimpse of this heady sport since the age of about three. It came with the startling realisation that even the daredevil of my youth would have been scared of it! Yet these talented cyclists fearlessly fly round at startling speeds while I winced when they got too close to each other, for fear of the awful crash that would result…luckily it never did.
Among them Victoria Pendleton, who had recently collected a gold medal at Beijing. In a turn of events, I also saw Pendleton at the Sunday Times Sportswomen of the Year Awards in 2009: once on stage dressed for the occasion and about half hour later passing her in the corridor in her trackies: no doubt heading to continue her training schedule. Just one of the sacrifices made to be at the top of a sport…and it’s not different for any of the Olympians we’re avidly watching in London 2012.
I’ll be glued to the TV when the battle for medals in the velodrome begins, but in the meantime let me congratulate Bradley Wiggins and Chris Froome in today’s men’s time trial for clinching gold and bronze! Well done Team GB!