Derry cyclist brands Team GB 'juvenile'
Olympic Cycling:Northern Irish track cyclist Wendy Houvenaghel has criticised her Great Britain team-mates and coach Shane Sutton after missing out on a gold medal.
The 37 year old from Upperlands in south Derry has labelled pursuit team-mates Dani King, Laura Trott and Jo Rowsell “juvenile”, despite the fact they won gold in the event in a world record time. Houvenaghel went on to criticise coach Shane Sutton, describing his decision to omit her from the team as "unjust".
The Derry woman was a silver medallist in Berlin and finished runner-up in the 3km individual pursuit in Beijing, but she was tonight dismayed after missing out on gold in London.
Houvenaghel did not feature in any of the four races in the event and consequently was not eligible for a medal. The three-time world champion of the 3km individual pursuit was so upset she was seen leaving track centre prior to the race.
Houvenaghel claims that prior to the Games she was assured by British cycling staff that she would feature in at least one of the four races. She also claimed that one of the women on Britain’s winning team had been ill earlier that day.
“She had vomiting and possibly not at 100 per cent effectiveness, so I thought at that point I will be riding,” said Houvenaghel. "I was told to get ready for the final but with 30 minutes to go I was told 'you’re not riding' by Shane Sutton.
"I couldn't change his mind - I had pointed out that one of our riders was sick and asked ‘Are you going to put her on the line again?’
"I had to accept it, I left the building and with it left behind Northern Ireland's next Olympic gold medal. I firmly believe I should have been riding and that medal was there to be taken, and I was prevented from having it by one person and one person's decision."
After winning gold, Roswell paid tribute to Houvenghal. She said, “She’s a really important member of our team.”
Roswell added: “She’s been with us on the whole journey and she was part of this team from when it was first in the World Championships in 2008, right from day one with me and Rebecca Romero. She’s been a great support so a big thank you to Wendy.”
Houvenaghel was unimpressed and claimed that none of her team-mates spoke to her after victory.
“The other girls said nothing to me - I find it disappointing," she said. "I find it juvenile. I would have expected better of people who are now Olympic champions."
Team GB are expected to issue a response to Houvenaghel’s claims later this evening.