Victoria Pendleton has posed for an exclusive photoshoot in HELLO! Magazine and spoken about how much she loves her new career as an amateur jockey.
"People said I was crazy and that it was dangerous, but ultimately the idea of working with horses, being in a yard environment and having something to get out of bed for every day really appealed to me. I had missed having a routine and it felt like I was filling a void," Olympic gold medallist Victoria told HELLO!.
Read the full interview in this week's HELLO! magazine, on sale now in all good newsagents and available to download on iPad, android, kindle fire and more formats. Or subscribe today to make sure you don't miss an issue!
"Somebody asked me whether I found it strange going from being the best in the world at something to being an absolute beginner. But that didn’t cross my mind. This is a new challenge, a new chapter in my life and I can honestly say that I have never felt happier."
Victoria is aiming to race in the Cheltenham Festival in March. And she says she is passionate about her new sport. "I have loved the whole experience from day one. The first time I cantered a horse along a hedgerow, I remember thinking, 'My God, this feels like flying.' Then when you get to gallop a horse, it blows your mind. You become one with your horse. It is very romantic. It is scary too but the exhilaration outweighs the fear."
The former world champion cyclist also tells HELLO! how she prefers it to her old sport. "I probably love riding more than cycling. It definitely makes me happier, but cycling was my career and there was such high expectation all the time, whereas this is like indulging in a really incredible hobby. I am enjoying the fun bits without having the pressure, which dictated my life for a long time. That pressure made me quite unhappy.”
In the interview and photoshoot, in which Victoria dresses up in designer outfits, she says she has always loved fashion.
"I am having a ball dressing up in all these wonderful dresses," she said. "I feel like a princess – I love fashion and dressing up. I am very girlie. WhenI was competing, shoots like these were a reward for all my hard training. For me, it was always an escape from the day job of having to wear Lycra and the team tracksuit."
To read more of the interview with Victoria, pick up the latest copy of HELLO! Magazine.