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Olympic champion Pendleton daunted by 2012 pressure
By Marc Vesty
Olympic sprint champion Victoria Pendleton says she is not feeling as motivated to retain her title in 2012 as she was when triumphing in Beijing.
The 30-year-old will race in the sprint, team sprint and keirin in London and revealed she is struggling with the pressure of being champion.
Pendleton said: "I am perhaps lacking a little bit of the hunger I felt when approaching the Olympics in Beijing.
"We will have to come up with some good coping strategies to deal with it."
Pendleton will have a dress rehearsal racing in front of a home crowd when she competes at the Track Cycling World Cup in Manchester, which starts on Friday.
The GB star will race in all three of the events she hopes to take part in in London and will be joined by Shanaze Reade for the two-woman, two-lap team sprint, with whom she won back-to-back world titles with in 2007 and 2008.
Everything will take a backseat for me now until the Olympics is done and dusted
Talking about the pressure of retaining her Olympic title, Pendleton added: "Aiming towards something you have never seen before, something that seemed so out of your reach, is very different to retaining it or attempting to retain it.
"I know that from the World Championships, the first time I won there was more enjoyable than stepping up with the rainbow stripes on [as the champion], which brings a lot of pressure and expectation and I think it is harder to maintain it than it is to achieve it the first time.
"It's going to be really tough going into the Olympics and having that expectation as reigning Olympic champion but we are expecting it and we are going to try and prepare ourselves as well as we can for the whole thing."
Despite the weight of expectation on her shoulders, Pendleton, who will follow up her World Cup appearance by competing in the World Championships in the Netherlands in March, says she is as focussed as ever on London.
"Everything will take a backseat for me now until the Olympics is done and dusted," explained Pendleton, who is engaged but will not get married until after 2012.
Brailsford wants stars to impress
"There is only one time this is going to come round for us. We are blessed and cursed all at the same time, approaching the London Olympics.
"You feel excited because it's on home turf, you feel the expectation and you want to please the home crowd.
"It's daunting, it's exciting and it's only going to get more and more built-up as we approach.
"If we pull it off and have some success, not even all the success that we dream of, it's going to be one awesome ride."
British Cycling's performance director Dave Brailsford says he has no concerns over Pendleton but admitted he is well aware of the different motivational challenge faced by Team GB's existing gold medallists.
"It is different. We have seen it with all of the successes post Olympics, when you have dedicated so much of your life to achieving something and then you get there and then you come down and think, 'where can I go now?'," said Brailsford.
"It is a different motivation when you have done it once but once Vicky sets her mind on something and locks on to it she is very difficult to stop.
"It is different, we recognise that it's different but I don't think it's an issue."
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