Today Victoria Pendleton, the British Olympic gold medal winner from Beijing 2008 was interviewed by the BBC about the pressures of being the favourite in the run up to the London 2012 Olympics. In it, she says that the gold medal winning day was the saddest of her career as it was also the day she came clean about her relationship with a ember of her coaching team, Scott Gardner. this led to Scot leaving the team so that they could be together.
Everyone was so angry with us, that Scott and I had fallen in love, because it was so unprofessional and we were a disgrace and had betrayed everybody…. Scott having to leave the team and everything he’s worked for with us was a really huge deal, I think I will be forever in his debt. He has given up everything to be with me. That means a lot. That’s why I need to do him proud at the London Olympics as well and prove it wasn’t in vain or for no reason, just that it was all worth it.
She feels like she has to win in order to fulfil a debt to her partner (although I’m sure he doesn’t see it like that). What a lot of pressure.
Contrast that with another cyclist Bradley Wiggins, who is aiming to be the first Brit to win the Tour de France, which he currently leads after 16 stages:
“You can’t get so drawn into [the constant scrutiny and associated pressure] that you end up thinking it’s a life-or-death situation. It used to be like that on the track a few years ago, when I was in the Olympic finals, [thinking] what’s going to happen to me, [if I lose] they’re going to send me to the gallows. As you get older, your kids get older and they’re not bothered about those things and it’s that which helps you handle these situations better.
Wiggins has a perspective in life which enables him to put winning and losing in it’s proper place.