In the run up to the individual sprint much was made in the press of the ‘rivalry’ between Pendals and her long standing opposition Australia’s Anna Meares, a rivalry Pendals says was entirely media generated. Okay so it’s nothing new for press to fabricate some tension between athletes, regardless of gender, as it makes a better story for them. But what makes this story stand out is the part where Pendals was asked by an Ozzie reporter whether she thought Meares was a ‘cow’. Not whether she thought Meares was determined, a threat, bulshy, tough or any word that could possibly refer to her athletic capabilities and the possible frustration she felt at continually coming second, but a cow. A term only used to describe women and meaning the woman being called said cow has an unpleasant personality and is generally vile to be around. It made women’s cycling sound like it was no more than a bitching session around the kettle in the office, instead of blood, sweat and tears pounding round a velodrome.
Not suprisingly Pendals was a little bit insulted at being asked a question like that. Maybe her and Meares wouldn’t hang out and go for coffee and a catch up after their racing was done, but they are also professional athletes. This fact is highlighted further when Pendals points out that a member of the media wouldn’t even dream of asking something like that to Sir Chris Hoy. ‘Hey Chris, do you think Kenny’s a dickhead?’, ‘Kenny, would you call Bauge a moron?’, ‘Peacock, do you think Pistorius is a tosser?’ You get the point and no, no they wouldn’t. The media would ask them questions about their rival’s athletic ability, if they think they’re a threat in the race, that sort of thing, you know, questions you’d ask professional athletes, yet it seems to be okay for them to throw in the odd personal comment when its rivalry between two women.
There’s no questioning that Pendals has put herself out there over the years. Her emotional personality is well documented through programmes and interviews that she’s has done and in that respect she has shown herself as a highly sensitive woman, but at the same time, when she is on that bike she is Victoria Pendleton MBE, winner of nine world titles, reigning world champion, former Olympic, Commonwealth and European champion and two-time Olympic gold medallist. She is a professional athlete and she and her fellow competitors deserves to be treated that way.
Image from http://img.thesun.co.uk/ (t’ank ya!)