LONDON (AFP) — British cyclist Wendy Houvenaghel has hit out at the “vindictive” manner in which she says team officials denied her a chance of an Olympic gold medal.
The 37-year-old from Northern Ireland, a three-time world champion, was in the squad for the victorious British women’s team pursuit but, because she did not not ride on the track at the velodrome, she failed to win a medal.
Instead, world record-setters Joanna Rowsell, Dani King and Laura Trott stood atop the podium last weekend.
Houvenaghel said she should have raced in the second round, effectively a semifinal, because Rowsell was unwell and added she’d been told to get ready for the final against the United States, only for Rowsell to keep her place.
“I’ve been treated really shabbily by an organization which I have been dedicated to for six years, have won many medals for and have been a key member of the team pursuit team,” said Houvenaghel. “To not allow me to ride in a three-minute race, which I can do with my eyes closed, practically, and let me pick up my Olympic gold medal was just vindictive and something which is going to take a lot of getting over.”
She added: “We had done faster times in training in Newport the week before with me in the line-up.
“I do feel I have been deliberately omitted from that opportunity that was mine and the opportunity to bring home a gold medal to Northern Ireland.
“The last gold we had was 40 years ago with Dame Mary Peters (the 1972 Olympic pentathlon champion). It’s a very shocking and upsetting decision.”