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Hevingham’s Olympic cycling hope Victoria Williamson aims to build on 2010

PUBLISHED: 08:45 17 November 2010

Victoria Williamson (left) is pursued by Olympic champion Victoria Pendleton at the UK Senior National Championships in Manchester, earlier this year.

Victoria Williamson (left) is pursued by Olympic champion Victoria Pendleton at the UK Senior National Championships in Manchester, earlier this year.

Archant

Remember the name – because 17-year-old Victoria Williamson might just be bringing Olympic gold home to Norfolk in a few years time.

Sprint cyclist Victoria is one of only two girl sprinters selected for Britain’s Olympic Development Programme for 2011, and after three silver medals in the European Junior and Under-23 championships in St Petersburg in September, she is on course to take the two-wheeled world by storm.

She followed up the Europeans with fourth in the UK Senior Championships – beaten only by her namesake and role model, Olympic and World champion Victoria Pendleton in the semi-finals. She also won the UK Junior National Championships in August and finished 2010 fourth in the world junior sprint rankings.

Playing its part in helping Victoria is Broadland District Council, which provided a Sponsorship for Excellence grant to help meet the cost of her training and equipment. The 2012 London Games may come too soon for Victoria, from Hevingham near Norwich, but she has her sights set on making Team GB for the 2016 Olympics in Rio, and representing England in the Commonwealth Games in 2014.

“It would probably mean one of the established seniors having to be injured for me to stand any chance of making the 2012 team because the competition for places is very fierce,” said Victoria. “But I’ll still only be 23 by the time of the Rio Games, so that’s my aim.”

Before that lies countless hours of training and hard work. Two punishing gym sessions per week are backed up by all-weather road riding each weekend, plus riding a static Watt bike at home, which monitors technique, performance and gives computerised feedback.

All that is fitted in around school work for the Norwich High School for Girls sixth former, who achieved 11 A* to B grades in her GCSEs last year, and is studying four A-levels in classics, biology, geography and PE: “It’s quite hard to find time for everything but I know in the long run it’ll be worth it,” she said. “I believe in myself and I want to push to be the very best I can. There is a banner in my gym which says ‘pain is temporary but quitting is forever’. That really drives me on.”

Victoria’s meteoric rise is remarkable given she had not even stepped on to a velodrome track until she was 15, having first successfully competed as a hurdler and pentathlete at English Schools’ level and for City of Norwich Athletic Club.

Now Victoria and parents, Mark and Tracey, travel about 12,000 miles each year for training sessions at British Cycling’s Manchester headquarters, race meetings and trips to the physio.

Mark said: “It’s quite a commitment for us, but this is a chance of a lifetime for Victoria so we are happy to give up our time. It’s fantastic to get some financial help along the way as well.”

Victoria’s coach and national assistant sprint coach Jon Norfolk said: “Since taking up track cycling she’s made impressive progress by any standards. Her dedication makes her an exciting prospect and one for the future.”

Victoria is one of 93 sportsmen and women to receive a grant from Broadland Council – eligible for people who live in Broadland and compete at county level or above – in the last year. They were invited to a celebration evening at the council’s Thorpe Lodge base on Friday, where former Norwich City legend Bryan Gunn presented them with certificates.

Councillor Stuart Clancy added: “We are delighted to be able to help all those sportsmen and women in Broadland achieve the goals. If even in a small way with have helped Victoria on the road to Rio we’ll be over the moon.”


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