Northern Ireland

Olympic cyclist Wendy Houvenaghel trains for gold rush

If medals were handed out for consistency alone, cyclist Wendy Houvenaghel would be top every time.

She was silver medallist at the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing and the 2010 Commonwealth Games in Delhi in the Individual Pursuit.

She also boasts wins at the World Cup and World Championships in the team event.

Her accomplishments are all the more impressive given that she came to the sport relatively late.

"When I got to the last Olympics, I'd really been a professional for just two years," she said.

"So to get a silver medal after just two years' experience was just phenomenal.

"I think with another four years' experience and knowing what's involved, sets me in a good position to go one better - and that's what I'm aiming for at the moment."

That hard work consists of six days every week training for five hours a day, all focussing on that potential prize of Olympic champion.

"I enjoy preparing for my events - it gives me great confidence," she said.

"I enjoy the aspect of being thorough. Getting through the training is a day-to-day job and I get on with that as conscientiously as possible. It is almost like a series of stepping stones to go from one Olympics to another Olympics."

The individual event is no longer on the games schedule so she is now chasing gold in London in the Team Pursuit.

'Constant'

The Great Britain line-up has gone through many changes but Wendy has been a constant throughout.

"I'm able to bring quite a lot to the team event, most importantly, experience. I feel I fit quite well into different line-ups because I'm medium build and having that background in the individual pursuit sets me in good stead."

Wendy, who is 36 years old, is looking forward to the challenge.

"Personally, I feel that my best performance is yet to come at the London games," she said.

The GB cycling squad dominated the event in Beijing in 2008 and four years later, in front of a "home" crowd, expectations will be sky high.

Wendy has no doubt about what the legacy will be: "It will be an excellent showcase for what London has to offer and hopefully we'll be remembered by how many medals we win - specifically the gold ones!"

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