The young Miss Cooke and her father, himself a former competitive cyclist, shunned the bus to dash from their home in the village of Wick, in the rolling hills of the Vale of Glamorgan in south Wales, to Brynteg Comprehensive School in Bridgend, where Tony Cooke taught physics.
The unusual training quickly paid off and Miss Cooke, now 25, publicly announced her life's ambition, and her talent, after winning the Welsh cyclo-cross championship in 1994.
She beat everyone in her age group - including the boys - then promptly announced in a live television interview: "I want to win a gold medal at the Olympics."
Miss Cooke was given her first bike for Christmas when she was six-years-old.
Mr Cooke said: "It was a little blue bike with stabilisers and she got very angry with the stabilisers straight away and demanded we take them off.
"Since then we've brought her a bike for most birthdays and for every Christmas.
"She had a passion for riding straight away and we all went on tandem bike-ride holidays together.
"She was always competing at school and knew this is what she wanted to do as a career.
"I used to go out cycling with her but eventually she sacked me.