In 2008 Rebecca Romero became only the second woman after swimmer and handball player Roswitha Krause to win Olympic medals in two distinctly different sports. She started rowing at age 17 and had graduated to a place on the national junior squad barely eight months after she first picked up an oar. A year later she was part of a crew that crossed the line in second at the World Junior Championship (although they were then disqualified) and in 2001 she was granted her senior international début. Barring 2003, when she rowed as part of a double sculls partnership with Debbie Flood, she raced every World or Olympic championship as part of the quadruple sculls. The crew reached World finals in 2001 and 2002, but it was only in the Olympic year of 2004 that they made their breakthrough and won the silver medal at the Athens Olympics. The quartet went one better by winning World Championship gold in 2005 but this was to be Romero’s swansong in the sport as a serious back injury and lack of motivation caused her to leave rowing in early 2006.
However she still wished to continue as a sportswoman and was able to transfer her strengths as a rower to track cycling. Romero started to train as a pursuit cyclist in spring 2006 and was national champion by the end of the year. She rapidly improved and by the time of the 2007 World Championship had become proficient enough to reach the final of the individual pursuit. Her second appearance at the World Championships came on her home track in Manchester five months before the Beijing Olympics where Romero was to win the individual pursuit gold medal and break the world record on her way to victory as part of the team pursuit. Her performances in the individual pursuit in Beijing were of the highest standard and she defeated teammate Wendy Houvenaghel to claim a historic gold medal victory. Her plan was then to take a year off before returning to the track in an attempt to defend her Olympic title but circumstances conspired against her. The individual pursuit was removed from the Olympic programme by the IOC and Romero decided to switch to road cycling with an eye to competing in the road time trial, This did not prove successful and in late 2011 she announced that she would not be seeking a place at the London Olympics. Romero decided that she would switch to competing in Ironman triathlon events from 2012 onwards.
Women's Individual Pursuit, 3,000 metres