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Customer Review

VINE VOICEon 7 October 2012
Caught up , like a great deal of the populous , by the summer Olympics I watched as much as I could and came to be particularly riveted by events in the velodrome . I came to a conclusion that the cycling authorities, vexed at the domination of the British cycling team were looking at any excuse to deny us a medal , especially gold's. Nowhere was this more obvious than in the final of the sprint between Victoria Pendleton and her arch-nemesis, the uncompromising Aussie Anna Meares, where Pendleton was disqualified and the bullying Meares allowed to indulge in her usual boisterous antics unhindered.
Victoria Pendleton's reaction to that defeat was one of sportsmanship and relief . The first because ...well she is a great sportswoman , the second because she was just so glad it was finally all over.
Which comes as no surprise once you read this excellent book and realise what she had to go through to get where she did. As a child she would go out cycling every Sunday with her father , a gifted amateur cyclist who would uncompromisingly drag her after him, never relenting in his own pace or checking on how she was doing . Just towing her along and expecting her to keep up. Once her abundant talent became obvious and she made her way through the cycling levels she was often disparaged and discouraged by coaches who thought her too skinny , not tough enough ......in short too girly. One pompous official in British Cycling told her "Miss Victoria....I'm going to find you very annoying ".
Victoria Pendleton is a complex sportswoman , beset by self doubt and nerves and often finding the whole rigmarole of professional sport so stressful and painful that she resorted to self harm . Then came the time she more or less ostracised herself from the rest of the British cycling team by falling in love with Scott Gardner , a sprint specialist co-opted into the team who was forced out when his relationship with Victoria became public, to the annoyance of much of the squad who blamed her for his departure. She also talks candidly of the sexism rife in the sport, which is backed by her getting the grief for their relationship but him getting none. Her point about the disqualification of herself and Jess Varnish and the lack of support for her junior partner afterwards are most poignant,.
In the end Victoria Pendleton had fallen out of love with the sport that defined her and had to be persuaded to stay on for an extra two years in order to compete in London 2012 after deciding to quit in 2010 .Here she of course won gold in the Keirin and was robbed of at least a silver in the team sprint by yet another officious unfair ruling before her eventual silver in the sprint .
An unflinching resolutely honest book, excellently written by Donald McRae , Between The Lines has everything you want from a sports biography. Triumph, disaster, a searing rivalry, pain , joy, insecurity , multifaceted interactions and an insight into the incredible will and resolution you need to compete at a top level sport. Many are better equipped for it mentally ( it of course transpired that physically she was more than equipped ) than Victoria Pendleton but she got through it and walked away with her head held high . Just hope she does the same on Strictly Come Dancing .
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