Strictly Pendleton

She was the darling of the velodrome and with her recent retirement from competitive cycling she’s all set to launch a new career in… well, anything that takes her fancy really – coaching, canoeing and now even ballroom dancing.

With odds of 7/1 she’s certainly a contender Yes, it’s ‘Strictly Come Dancing‘ time again and it looks like the rumours were true. Victoria Pendleton, gold and silver London Olympic medal winner, joins the ranks of sportsmen and sportswomen who have tripped the light fantastic on the BBC’s ever popular dancing competition. But whether she Tangos or foxtrots, waltzes or fandangos, one thing is for sure – there will be blood, sweat and tears along the way. Victoria never does things by half: “I hate it when others don’t do things to the best of their ability,’ says the world champion cyclist and two-times Olympic gold medallist. ‘I hate it in myself – I feel I am letting myself down – and I hate it in others, too. It is a problem. And my insistence on it is a curse.”

Mind you, it’s a curse that has paid off. Her marketability boomed in the run-up to London 2012 and she already endorses a host of brands from Halford’s bikes and Hovis bread, to Pantene beauty products. Yes, Victoria is already highly marketable with a string of sponsorship deals. But with her appearance in ‘Strictly’ she enters a new phase in her career, beginning a transition from sportswoman to true celebrity. Hot from her Olympic success, a firm favourite with the public, and now a contestant in arguably the most viewable celebrity show on TV, she looks all set to become a £1m-a-year star at the very least – and all this despite losing her Olympic sprint crown.

Jon Ridgeon, former Olympic hurdler and director of sports marketing company, Fast Track says: “Winning gold is important but it is not only about performance. Victoria is hugely glamorous and alongside Jess Ennis she will be the poster girl of the Games. She is wholesome, and there’s her honesty. Putting it all together, along with another gold, then she is going to be earning north of £1m a year immediately after the Games.”

With her wholesome, honest, hardworking image Victoria is ideal to promote lifestyle, fashion, makeup – she’s all set to become a female icon and role model outside of her cycling fan base. She’s previously expressed an interest in the fashion industry although her agent, Chris Evans-Pollard, insists that what Victoria does in the future is yet to be decided: “Every athlete will say that they haven’t thought beyond the Games. We don’t know yet what she’s going to do. But she could be anything. She is eloquent, intelligent and attractive.” Victoria herself says that she may coach or even try another sport: “At last I’m free! Now I might be a rower…I loved canoeing and the sea scouts.”

Viewers will see 14 celebrities take to the dance floor and Victoria joins silver medal-winning gymnast and fellow Olympian Louis Smith alongside a host of other celebrities including Kimberley Walsh, Jerry Hall, Fern Britton, Sid Owen and Johnny Ball. “I’m really looking forward to Strictly – it’s just going to be me trying something new, learning a new skill hopefully and also getting to dress very glamorously with all the sparkles and makeup and hair, which is something I haven’t seen a lot of over the last few years!”

Victoria is voting for Louis to outperform her and the 23-year-old silver-medal winning gymnast is already incorporating his acrobatic skills into his dancing. Victoria who plans to marry her former coach, Scott Gardner, later this year has vowed not to cry – win or lose. Mind you, she’s not unknown to shed a tear or two and by her own admittance she likes to win – saying at the recording of ‘Strictly’s’ launch show: “I think I’m probably a better loser than I am a winner, to be perfectly honest.”

With odds of 6/1 (Paddy Power) she’s certainly a contender but she’ll have to work hard to beat some of her opponents like stage-school trained, Dani Harmer and favourite, TV presenter turned musical stage show star, Denise Van Outen. Yes, she has some stiff competition, particularly as Victoria told a Sunday newspaper recently: “I can’t dance and I’ve always wanted to be able to.”

“Can’t dance…” Well, let’s see what Len, Bruno, Craig and new girl Darcey Bussell have to say about that.