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Between the Lines By Victoria Pendleton with Donald McRae

Release date: 10th September, 2012
Publisher: HarperSport

List Price: £18.00
Our Price: £12.00
You Save: £6 (33%)
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It's a measure of the confidence her management, publishers and the woman herself had in her ability to deliver at London 2012 that Victoria Pendleton is the first post-Olympic British athlete to publish an autobiography. Success was expected, not hoped for; Victoria was the nation's big sister - we knew we could rely upon her.

Nonetheless, only hours before winning a second Olympic gold in the velodrome last month, she revealed that she was quitting the sport. "If you paid me a million billion pounds, I still couldn't go through that again," she declared.

As the news broke, Pendleton stood atop the podium, ready to receive another gold medal, a moment when she could "finally understand what you are meant to experience - joy, pride and relief all wrapped up in a magical blur of feeling." Much of the nation wept with her.

This is a searingly honest book, a memoir with nothing deemed to be off limits, including the disturbing point at which the tired girl from Bedfordshire traces lines on her forearm with a Swiss Army knife, then goes deeper still, drawing enough blood to leave a scar, before pulling back and accepting that the torment and harsh training is part of her everyday routine. Between the Lines is a subtle, almost macabre, reference to this alarming moment.

Vulnerable, insecure and girlie she might be, but this bundle of energy, frequent tears and determination is also incredibly brave. Knowing that one false move at 40mph while balanced precariously on a type less than an inch thick could end her career, Victoria Pendleton nevertheless pursues gold medals and world titles with the courage and boldness of a lioness.

Like most successful athletes, Pendleton discovered her sport when comparatively young. Fortunately, British cycling was preparing to take winning titles seriously at precisely the point at which she was in the junior ranks, seemingly reaching its apogee in Beijing four years ago, but fortunately maintaining its dominance at last month's Olympics.

If Victoria Pendleton was hoping to melt slowly into the background, then appearing on Strictly was hardly likely to facilitate the process. Yet having endured brutal training regimes for so long and delivered, you can't help but think that she's due some fun downtime.


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