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Heartbreak for Olympians Jess Varnish and Victoria Pendleton
11:05am Friday 3rd August 2012 in News
THE Olympics are over for Worcestershire cyclist Jessica Varnish after she and teammate Victoria Pendleton were dramatically disqualified from the track team sprint – but her career is now only just beginning, says Victoria.
Jess and and partner Victoria Pendleton missed out on a ride-off for Olympic gold after being relegated by officials for a takeover infringement on an eventful opening evening of track action at the London 2012 velodrome.
Victoria, aged 31, who is set to retire after the Olympics, said of Jess: “It’s not quite her Games over because she’s going to have many more Olympic Games to go to, I’m sure. This is the end for me but it’s just the beginning for Jess.
It’s an amazing opportunity for her and an experience to make the most of what it’s like to be in an Olympic environment. I’m 100 per cent sure Jess will go to Rio and absolutely smash it.”
Jess, from Bromsgrove, and Victoria had set a world record in the two-woman, two-lap event in qualifying, seeing the mark broken moments later by China.
The Britons set the second fastest time in the first round and were due to advance to the final against China, who set another world record, but officials ruled against them.
Victoria was set to resume competition in the keirin tomorrow, but for Jess, who has focused on the starting lap in the event for two years, the Games are over.
It meant Germany were promoted to the final against China, with Australia and Holland to contest bronze.
The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and Prince Harry arrived after the drama to a full-to-capacity velodrome, featuring an expectant crowd.
A tearful Victoria, crowned the queen of the track after her Beijing sprint success, had no qualms with the decision, while 21-year-old Jess was so devastated by events that she opted out of media duties.
Victoria said: “It was an illegal change. I came through in the change zone about a metre too early; we’re talking about one hundredth of a second of a mistake there.
“Jess moved up a fraction too early and I just saw the door and went for it, because that’s my cue to try to squeeze underneath her as quickly as possible.
“It’s one of those things that happens. It’s quicker than a blink of an eye.
“You have to stick by the rules. The rules are there to make it a fair sport.
“Unfortunately we fell on the wrong side of that today. It wasn’t intentional, obviously.”
British Cycling performance director Dave Brailsford was seen speaking to race commissaires and reviewing video footage, with Britain’s ride being scrutinised, but there was no right to appeal.
Victoria told the BBC: “We didn’t change over in the right zone of the track. It’s really hard when you’re going that speed.
“We’ve never had an illegal change before. It’s not something we’ve been too concerned about in the past but it’s just one of those things.
"It’s not Jess’s fault, it’s not my fault – we’re both partly to blame. We were probably just a bit too overwhelmed, a bit excited about our ride and a bit too eager. We should have just kept a lid on it.
“Now and again rubbish things happen and this is one of those days.
“On the whole we’ve had a really excellent run. We were very pleased with our time. We were both hoping to go faster, a little bit of a gear change in the final.”
Jess, whose father is professional cyclist Jim Varnish, rides for Halesowen Cycling Club near Birmingham.
Jess Varnish on Twitter
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