Rebecca Romero, the world champion rower who switched to cycling and beat Great Britain team mate Wendy Houvenaghel to win Olympic gold in the individual pursuit at Bejing in 2008, has been forced to withdraw from the GB squad for London 2012 as a result of ongoing injury problems.
In a statement released through British Cycling, the 31-year-old said: “Having suffered several setbacks at crucial points, I believe I’m no longer on a pathway which will see me fulfil my Olympic ambition to win a second Olympic gold medal. I’m proud to have contributed to the cycling team’s great Olympic triumph in Beijing and I thank all the amazing people within British Cycling who were central to my success. I wish my current team mates every success in London next year.”
Like Bradley Wiggins, Romero was denied the chance to defend on home soil the title she won in Beijing after the reshuffling of the Olympic track programme saw both the men’s and women’s individual pursuits dropped from London 2012.
At the time, Romero described the move, which tied in with a new Olympic programme providing an equal number of events for men and women, as “ludicrous.”
Romero, who began cycling after retiring from rowing in 2006, two years after taking silver as part of the quadruple sculls crew at the Athens Olympics, has struggled with injury over the past couple seasons.
Two years ago, a knee problem forced her and James Cracknell to abandon an attempt at the Land’s End to John O’Groat’s mixed tandem record midway through.
Then, earlier this year, what British Cycling described as a “minor injury” meant that she missed the Manchester World Cup, a key event in her attempt to break into the Great Britain team pursuit squad.
Britain’s strength in depth in that discipline – the event saw Houvenaghel, Laura Trott and Dani King win the country’s only gold medal of the 2011 track world championships in the Netherlands earlier this year – means that even a fully-fit Romero may have struggled to win a place in the line-up for London 2012.
She also faced strong competition for an Olympic place in the other event she was targeting, the individual time trial on the road, in the shape of 2010 world champion, and silver medallist in Beijing, Emma Pooley.
Great Britain Performance Manager Shane Sutton commented: “Rebecca’s decision to leave is a great loss to the team and it’s a shame to lose an Olympic Champion going into the Olympic year. Looking ahead, we have some great young talent in addition to experienced riders in the Team Pursuit squad and I’m confident we can remain on track to hit our performance targets in the lead up to and during the London Olympic Games.”
Born in Scotland, Simon moved to London aged seven and now lives in the Oxfordshire Cotswolds with his miniature schnauzer, Elodie. He fell in love with cycling one Saturday morning in 1994 while living in Italy when Milan-San Remo went past his front door. A daily cycle commuter in London back before riding to work started to boom, he's been news editor at road.cc since 2009. Handily for work, he speaks French and Italian. He doesn't get to ride his Colnago as often as he'd like, and freely admits he's much more adept at cooking than fettling with bikes.