Meares praises Pendleton's sportsmanship
Victoria Pendleton was hailed by her fiercest rival Anna Meares after the Australian took gold in the women’s individual sprint final at the London 2012 Olympic Games.
Pendleton and Meares were both considered to be each other’s nemesis and their final showdown bore all the hallmarks of a traditionally spiky competition between the two.
But 31-year-old Pendleton surprised all inside the velodrome by offering Meares an immediate embrace and no one was more approving than the champion herself.
"Last night Victoria showed great sportsmanship,” said Meares, who finished runner-up to Pendleton four years ago in Beijing.
“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 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.
“To race in front of the crowd was something unique. The decibel measure that was taken was about 114 and 95 per cent 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."
Meares hopes that this moment of entente-cordiale between the two could lead to more of a friendship in future now that their rivalry is a thing of the past.
The 28-year-old also admitted she found the way she was portrayed as a pantomime villain by the British media hurtful.
“We would have to see if our paths cross because they only really do in competition," she said.
“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.
“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.
"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.”