London, August 4 (ANI): Victoria Pendleton, who by her own estimation and that of others who know about professional cycling is too small, too slender, too feminine, has revealed that her love affair with her own coach proved to be controversial with her fellow competitors.
In the run-up to the Olympics, the 31-year-old cyclist had fallen in love with Scott Gardner, who was then the British cycling team's sports scientist - the expert data analyst who works with the coaching team to help athletes maximise their potential.
While this was wonderful, she says it was also 'disgustingly unprofessional'.
Before they did anything about their mutual attraction, Pendleton and Gardner, a phlegmatic Aussie, discussed what to do about it in agonising detail.
It was the most awkward thing I've ever had to do, the Daily Mail quoted her as saying.
We hadn't even gone on a date, she said.
But the fact was that if they went public with their putative relationship - and they are not, she says, the kind of people to lie about it - then one of them would have to leave the team. And it would have to be him, since she couldn't compete for another nation.
When they told the team coaches they were starting to see each other romantically outside work, they were told to keep quiet until after the Games so as not to disrupt the team's preparations.
But as soon as the races were over, Pendleton says, 'the s**t hit the fan, and what should have been the happiest moment of my life turned out to be the most hideous.'
I honestly left the Olympics feeling like I'd committed a crime - like I'd killed somebody, she said.
Back in the UK, with Scott Gardner gone from the team, Pendleton says she became something of a pariah.
Some people reacted very negatively, she said.
Not all, she's keen to stress, but a number of her coaches and team-mates were furious that they could no longer work with Gardner. People made disparaging comments about both of them.
It was tough.
Shocking, painful and uncomfortable. It hurt, Pendleton said.
From 2009 until the beginning of this year, Pendleton's form slumped.
People say that as a sportsperson, you shouldn't reveal your weaknesses, that you shouldn't come across as vulnerable. But I am vulnerable, and I am emotional. What's wrong with that? As long as my legs are faster than the other girls', it doesn't matter, she added. ANI)