Two-time Olympic gold medallist Victoria Pendleton has shared a humorous anecdote highlighting the everyday sexism she encounters as a cyclist, with male riders she passes out on the road refusing to believe they could have been overtaken and speeding up to try and accelerate past her.
“The way I appear has changed so much in the last few years, and to be perfectly honest, I rarely get recognised. I think I am quite nondescript…which is no bad thing. It allows me to be a chameleon which I enjoy,” she wrote in an Instagram post.
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“If I’m out about on my road bike and I overtake a man for example…I will hear a rapid crunching gears as they try to ‘make amends for it,’ occasionally combined with a mumbling of ‘I must have been daydreaming’…like they need an excuse! Usually followed with a pedal-mashing (usually short-lived) stomp back past me.”
The 39-year-old says these instances don’t necessarily bother, her and that she finds them amusing.
“It doesn’t bother me I think it’s funny,” she said. “I’ve always been underestimated because of the way I look….one day I want to be intimidating…”
Pendleton took gold in the Sprint event at the 2008 Beijing Games, before doubling her gold medal tally four years later in the Keirin at the London Games.
The 2012 Olympics also saw the Brit set a new Olympic record of 10.724 seconds in the Sprint qualifiers, although she was controversially relegated in the first run in the final against Anna Meares, eventually earning a silver medal, which would be her final competition before retiring from professional cycling.
Since then, Pendleton switched pedal power for literal horse power, becoming a jockey and achieving a fifth-placed finish at the 2016 Foxhunter Chase at Cheltenham.
Then, in 2018, she was forced to abandon an Everest ascent with TV presenter Ben Fogle when she experienced hypoxia, caused by a lack of oxygen.
Following this, she was diagnosed with depression and had contemplated suicide before seeking help from British Cycling psychiatrist Steve Peters among others.