By Nigel Wynn
Beijing Olympic individual pursuit gold medallist Rebecca Romero has decided to leave the British Olympic Programme, saying that she feels she cannot achieve a gold medal at the Olympic Games in London next year.
"Having suffered several setbacks at crucial points, I believe I'm no longer on a pathway which will see me fulfil my Olympic ambition to win a second Olympic gold medal," said Romero in a British Cycling statement released on Monday.
"I'm proud to have contributed to the cycling team's great Olympic triumph in Beijing and I thank all the amazing people within British Cycling who were central to my success. I wish my current team mates every success in London next year."
Great Britain cycling performance manager Shane Sutton added: "Rebecca's decision to leave is a great loss to the team and it's a shame to lose an Olympic Champion going into the Olympic year. Looking ahead, we have some great young talent in addition to experienced riders in the Team Pursuit squad and I'm confident we can remain on track to hit our performance targets in the lead up to and during the London Olympic Games."
Romero's decision to leave the cycling Olympic programme should perhaps not come as a surprise. The International Olympic Committee axed the individual pursuit discipline - which she won a gold medal in 2008 - from the 2012 Games.
With the individual pursuit gone, Romero had hoped to contest either the road time trial or make the British women's team pursuit squad. However, a series of injuries thwarted her preparations for both disciplines, and she was forced to abandon an appearance at the Track World Cup round in Manchester in February due to injury and was subsequently not selected for GB's World Championship team.
A lack of competition at either World Cup or World Championship level had seriously damaged her chances of selection for the 2012 Olympic Games.
In September, Romero placed fourth in the British time trial national championships behind winner Wendy Houvenaghel, second-placed Julia Shaw and third-placed Sarah Storey. Shaw went on to ride in the World Championships time trial in Copenhagen with Emma Pooley.
Romero claimed individual pursuit gold in the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing after making a switch from rowing where she won silver in the 2004 Olympic Games in Athens.
Romero out of Track World Cup
January 2010: Romero changes focus to time trialling
Rebecca Romero: Rider profile