Houvenaghel back on track

Competition for places fierce ahead of Olympics

Last Updated: 08/04/12 7:24pm

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Wendy Houvenaghel: All smiles on the podium after her silver medal

Wendy Houvenaghel: All smiles on the podium after her silver medal

Sky Bet

Wendy Houvenaghel's devastation has turned into determination after a Track Cycling World Championships in Melbourne which failed to meet expectations and threatened to see the Olympic medallist walk away from the sport just four months out from the London Games.

The 37-year-old, three times a team pursuit world champion, was omitted from the Great Britain squad for the event on day two, as Joanna Rowsell, Dani King and Laura Trott twice set the world record in the matter of a few hours and claimed the gold medal.

After believing her Olympic hopes to be hanging in the balance, Houvenaghel's mood dipped so drastically she enquired about taking the next flight home, consulted senior management and British Cycling's sports psychiatrist Dr Steve Peters.

However, after a period of reflection and a silver medal in the now non-Olympic three-kilometre individual pursuit on Sunday's fifth and final day at the Hisense Arena, her fire has been reignited ahead of the Games.

"I was completely devastated with what happened last Thursday," said Houvenaghel, who won individual pursuit silver behind Rebecca Romero in Beijing and has put her life on hold for London.

"I was fully anticipating coming in for the final and was led to believe that I would be taking part in the final. However, that didn't materialise.

"My instant reaction was quite irrational in that I just wanted to go home and think about my future.


"I'm really motivated now and very focused on how I can improve and how I can move forward to make sure that I am in one of the line-ups come August."

Houvenaghel took her frustrations out on the pedals in her heat ride, clocking three minutes 27.842 seconds - only narrowly outside her personal best which she set en route to Olympic silver.

Now the individual event is no longer on the revised Games programme, Houvenaghel's energies have been focused on the team discipline, hence her earlier despair.

"The last few days have been quite a rollercoaster of emotions for me, so I was really pleased to come out tonight and give the IP a good go and I was pleased to come away with a medal," she added.

Head coach Shane Sutton and women's endurance coach Paul Manning believe Houvenaghel is more than capable of riding in the first-choice team - it is just she did not make selection on this occasion.

"The coaches have been really supportive and positive about me staying with the team," Houvenaghel added.

"Anything can happen in four months. They do not want to lose me from this team and I'm very much a part of the Olympic squad going forward.

"I'm really glad Shane didn't let me go home."

Houvenaghel believes the incident will benefit Britain's bid for Olympic success.

"I think the other girls will have seen how devastated I was and they will step up their approach to training and competition as well," she added.

"I think in general it will just keep our group working even harder and no-one will become complacent."

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