British cyclists were the toast of the Olympic Games in 2008, sweeping seven of the 10 gold medals on offer, yet Rebecca Romero’s triumph in the individual pursuit was particularly resonant. Four years earlier, Romero had been part of the quartet which claimed silver in rowing’s quadruple sculls, losing out to Germany for a treasured gold medal in the heat of Athens.
The performance signalled a turning point in Romero’s career; gone was her motivation for rowing competition at the highest level and she pondered a switch.
Cycling formed a pivotal part of her training regime and Britain was riding a wave of success in the sport; the decision in hindsight appeared obvious.
She took to her new discipline quickly, and soon developed a healthy rivalry with Team GB team-mate Wendy Houvenaghel.
She made her international debut in the saddle barely two years before Beijing and regularly vied for glory in the lung-bursting 3000m pursuit with Houvenaghel on the UCI World Cup circuit.
A back injury hampered her preparations leading up to Beijing but victory in the team and individual pursuit events at the 2008 world championships in Melbourne put her right on course.
She clocked the fastest time in crushing Australian Katie Mactier in the semi-finals and was once again pitted against her team-mate and nemesis Houvenaghel at a deafening Laoshan velodrome on the outskirts of the city.
Her victory in the final was clinical and dominant. She was never seriously challenged, and though Houvenhagel hung on right until the end despite three races in three days, there was never any doubt as to the outcome of the race.
She won by over two seconds, flinging a victorious fist into the air before collapsing into the arms of her coach.