London, July 15 (ANI): British cycling star Victoria Pendleton has revealed that winning gold at the Beijing Olympics was her saddest day, as she had betrayed the team when she fell in love with her coach Scott Gardner.
The glamorous athlete has admitted that she was left "almost numb" that day after the squad reacted angrily to news of her relationship with Gardner.
It is an unwritten rule in professional sport that coaches do not become involved with their athletes because of the risk it will undermine team spirit.
Although senior management had been aware of their romance, the couple were warned to keep it a secret until the end of the Games.
When they went public with their relationship, the immediate fallout was devastating.
Gardner, an Australian sports scientist, had to switch to the Team GB swimming team and Victoria spent years isolated from her fellow cyclists who, furious that their coach was no longer there to help them, made plain their sense of betrayal.
"Winning the gold medal should have been the happiest day of my entire life and it just wasn't," the Daily Mail quoted her as saying in a TV interview.
"It felt like the saddest day in my entire life. I felt almost numb. I thought I really would feel different and somehow I would be overwhelmed by emotion, that I wouldn't be able to hold it back, but I didn't feel anything.
"Everyone was so angry that Scott and I had fallen in love. It was so unprofessional - we were a disgrace and had betrayed everybody. We knew if we embarked on this then that would be the end. One of us would have to leave the job," she said.
As the news leaked out, Pendleton felt increasingly resented by her fellow athletes.
"I can't say I'm going to look back on the past three years fondly. I did feel at times that I was out on my own," she said.
Hinting that the air has still not yet cleared ahead of the London Games, she added: "I'm not disregarded but I'm not the favourite, shall we say."
The fact that British Cycling bosses have invited Gardner back to the squad could be either a blessing or a curse for the pair, who plan to marry after the Olympics.
Pendleton is hugely reassured by his presence.
"He gave up everything to be with me and that means a lot.
"That's why I need to do him proud at the London Olympics, so I can say that it wasn't in vain and to prove that it was all worth it," she added. (ANI)