Varnish: Rio now my goal after London heartbreak

Varnish and Pendleton compete in the team sprint last Thursday PHOTO BY DAVID ASHDOWN

Varnish and Pendleton compete in the team sprint last Thursday PHOTO BY DAVID ASHDOWN

First published in Sport

JESS Varnish intends to use her London disappointment as motivation for future glory.

The 21-year-old Halesowen Cycling Club star has spoken of the “sickening” moment she and team-mate Victoria Pendleton were disqualified from last Thursday’s women’s team sprint.

But she has vowed to bounce back and is already thinking of Rio 2016.

With Pendleton having retired after winning silver in yesterday’s individual sprint, Varnish knows the door is now open for her to really make a mark.

She said: “I’m 21 and have got the rest of my career ahead of me. Rio is a massive goal now. This is the start of my Olympic career not the end.

“I feel really excited about being able to focus on my individual events. I believe I can be an all right sprinter and I’m looking forward to focusing on it properly.”

Varnish and Pendleton’s disqualification, for an illegal changeover in their second ride, saw them denied a spot in the gold medal race against China.

The pair had shown themselves to be in great form, having broken the world record in their first ride.

Varnish says she will never watch replays of the moment their hopes were lost.

She said: “I have no issue with the decision even though I don’t intend ever looking at the video — it would just break my heart.

“The change didn’t feel quite right and it was a sickening feeling immediately afterwards knowing what might be coming.

“I can’t tell you how upsetting it was and for all sorts of reasons. We were riding so well there really was a possibility of gold, it would have been such a thrill to ride in that race.

“And then it really started to sink in. Not only weren’t we in the final with a guaranteed silver medal, we were out of the competition totally.

“We had broken a world record and finished as also-rans. My Olympics was over, Vicky’s dream of three golds was gone. I just felt awful.”

Varnish’s disappointment was shared by more than a hundred fans who crammed into Halesowen Cycling Club, hoping to roar her to victory.

Meanwhile dad Jim, who was watching from trackside, revealed how he had fought through security to reach the centre of the velodrome and comfort his distraught daughter.

He said: “I have never seen her like that, she just did not know what to do with herself.

“I had to battle to get my way into the middle of the velodrome and get her out of there .

“We took her out of the Olympic park that night and it was tough for us all.”

He added: “The difficulty is nobody had prepared mentally for anything like this to happen.

“You can plan for a mechanical and things going wrong. You can accept it if on the day your form just isn’t quite good enough. You don’t plan for being disqualified.”

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