“I started racing before anyone had heard of a lottery grant,” added Cooke.
“So you could certainly say I am at a different starting point to a lot of riders today.
“How many years was I the only British rider in the peloton? At least five or six. And there was no career path to follow, not like academy riders have now.
“For me it was about loving racing and I wanted to see if I could get to the top.
“But there was not a road to get there and I had to find it myself.
“Having seen the coverage that Mark Cavendish and Bradley Wiggins get now, it would be interesting if I had my Beijing year again now.
“But that is not why I got into cycling.”
And another Olympic gold could provide the perfect conclusion to her illustrious career.
“Everything is based around the Olympics,” Cooke told the Times.
“If the aim was to earn half a million I would have enrolled in a tennis academy aged seven.
“There are a lot of average tennis players out there earning that much.
“But double Olympic gold medal winner, that’s the dream.”