Sport.co.uk popped along to Soho Hotel for the launch of EA SPORTS Active 2, a revolutionary new fitness program which makes exercising not only fun but also possible in your own living room, thanks to a virtual personal trainer and a variety of virtual activities. Your correspondent tried his hand at skating, boxing and cycling, leaping around and sweating buckets in front of a gaggle of guffawing onlookers including Olympic gold medallist and active ambassador for Active 2 Victoria Pendleton. D’oh.
After the ordeal, Sport.co.uk sat down with Pendleton amidst rumours doing the rounds that Goals on Sunday presenter Ben Shephard had beaten her in the cycling game. We also discussed inconsiderate motorists, Chris Hoy putting the fear of god into a van driver, getting chased by monsters, the potential of Jess Varnish and Becky James and the, er, ‘suggestive’ nature of the London 2012 logo…
How have you been enjoying the revolutionary new fitness program?
It’s really good, I really enjoy it. I was involved with the first EA SPORTS Active game and this one’s getting a bit more advanced – the technology’s improving. I really like the heartbeat monitor and the motion sensors are a bit more effective now, having two instead of holding things in your hands. So yeah, I really enjoy it.
Is it true that Ben beat you at the cycling game?
Yes but he had a head start! He started a fraction of a second before and never really made up the difference. He would claim differently but I know the truth. (Laughs)
Either way, it’s gone down in the history books. So, you rode your first race aged just nine, a 400m event on the grass track at Fordham. How did you wind up starting out at such a young age?
My dad’s always been a keen cyclist and I grew up watching him race, so it was inevitable that I would get a racing bike as soon as I was old enough to. I’ve got a twin brother as well so it’s something we used to do together in the summer just to keep us out of trouble.
Given that you’ll be surrounded by home supporters in 2012, are you worried you might struggle to maintain the same level of focus that you managed in Beijing?
Not really. It is great to have home support and we’re quite lucky to have some really faithful supporters that follow us round the world. So there are always plenty of Union Jacks in the crowd. It’s great motivation but, when you’re racing, you don’t really pay attention to it anyway – you learn to block it all out so it doesn’t really affect your performance. Obviously, you just want to make sure that people…erm…can’t think what I was going to say now. I’ve lost my train of thought!
It’s ok, you’ve had a long and physically challenging day.
I’m really sorry! (Laughs) Well, you just want to do your supporters proud, do a good job and hopefully they’ll enjoy watching and we can produce almost as good results as last time.
Do you still train on the streets of Manchester?
Yeah, I still ride my road bike. I avoid cycling in the dark because it can be quite busy during rush hour when we’ve finished training and it can be a bit dangerous. You have to look after yourself a bit more than usual.
How often do you find yourself getting spotted or even cheered on compared to how often you’re subjected to abuse from boorish motorists?
Oh, I get more abuse from motorists than I get recognised, by far. Seriously, by far.
Sport.co.uk read somewhere that you sometimes like to catch up with motorists who cut you up to have a go at them.
No, it would be nice. Although I was training with Chris Hoy once and this van driver cut us up completely. Chris knew the roads well so he knew where the next traffic lights were and that they’re always red. So he caught them up and shouted at the guy through the window. The guy was scared, really, because Chris Hoy’s a big guy and you don’t want to get in his way when he’s angry. You do feel like you want to give them [inconsiderate motorists] what for.
Do you still have crazy nightmares about getting chased by monsters?
Yes, always! I always dream about being chased. I’m one of those people that has really vivid dreams all the time and I often dream about getting chased. It’s quite clear what it’s all about – you know, I’m always under pressure to perform or there’s always something looming in the future. So it’s inevitable.
How do you rate Jess Varnish and Becky James?
I think they’re hugely talented, more talented than I was at their age. They’ve got an amazing future ahead of them and they’ll probably be clocking up more world titles than I will in my lifetime. They’re at a much higher level a lot younger.
Finally, what do you think of the 2012 logo? Sport.co.uk has decided against saying what we think it looks like on grounds of taste. Suffice to say, think The Simpsons…
I haven’t really thought about it too much, to be honest. I know there’s been a lot of criticism of it but I suppose you get used to it, don’t you? I’ve heard some people say what they think it looks like but I can’t really see it.
Victoria Pendleton was speaking at the launch of EA SPORTS Active 2 – the new interactive fitness program out from November 19th. It includes a heart rate monitor and over 70 different exercises to choose from, allowing you to personalise every workout. Available on all formats, visit www.easportsactive.co.uk for more information.