Posted by Editor on 10/30/06
Lori-Ann Muenzer Interview
Lori-Ann Muenzer announced today that she is retiring from competition. Muenzer is Canada's only Olympic gold medal, with her electrifying performance at the Athens Games in the Women's Sprint competition. After the Games Muenzer announced that she planned to continue competing and defend her title at the Beijing Games.
We spoke with Lori-Ann a couple of days ago from her home in Edmonton (this interview had to be embargoed until after her official retirement announcement today).
Canadian Cyclist - You stated after Athens that you planned to defend your title in Beijing. What changed?
Lori-Ann Muenzer - Well if you watched my documentary (One Gear, No Brakes), then you will have seen the trials and tribulations required to compete! Basically, the track season has moved four months earlier in the year (November to March), which makes it really hard for a Canadian to prepare. Other than Burnaby, there is no covered track in Canada, so you have to live and train somewhere else.
After Athens it was a whirlwind, nothing could prepare for that - the speaking, the press the events I had to go to. My objective had been to win the Worlds (next Spring - 2005), and that didn't happen. I gave everything I had to the Olympics and then the Worlds, and so I needed to take a break, to take a look at everything.
Plus, Steen (her coach) decided to pursue a different road - he was going into the banking world - and it is difficult to think of working with anyone else. He's been my training partner, and you need a venue (track) to work together at - you can't do it by correspondence.
So, I looked at all the missing elements, and realized it was time to turn the page, to move onto the next chapter.
CC - What is the next chapter?
LAM - It's developing Pure Momentum (www.puremomentum.ca), my company for prominent Canadian female speakers. I have seen that there is nothing else out there like this, and there are so many Canadian women with really amazing stories. I did lots of speaking after the Olympics, and people had so many questions.
CC - So this is turning into a career for you? Who do you and other speakers with Pure Momentum talk to?
LAM - Yes, there is lots for me to do, both as a speaker and coordinating these amazing speakers. Lots of times it is charitable organizations or companies looking for someone who ties into their message. I met an events planning organizer just last week who said that they are always looking for speakers for the events they put on.
Plus - and I'm very passionate about this - I want to work with school kids, to motivate and inspire them, to tell them the story of my journey to help them with their own.
Also, I hope to do more workshops with developing up and coming athletes in different sports. I think I can help them with answering the question: "How do you bridge the gap from where you are to where you want to be?" I can give you some of the tools which will help you - with your coach - close those gaps; I can be a facilitator.
CC - How many speakers do you have now?
LAM - We added six in the first year and now we are adding seven more. I would like to add another 13 more by July 1st, 2007.
CC - What else are you involved in? Are you still into photography?
LAM - Yes, I am still taking photos - I just bought a new camera, my first digital SLR! I do it because I love it; I always have my camera with me. It's for personal fun, not professionally.
Then I have LAMP (XXXLori-Ann Muenzer ProgramXXX); it's a step up from Sprockids for kids that want to get involved in racing - I would like to see this go across Canada. I also sit on the Board for Canadian Tire's Jump Start program, which is a really great program to make sure that under privileged kids have the equipment and resources they need to get out and play and be involved in sports. It tries to make sure that kids don't miss out because they can't afford the equipment to participate, or can't afford the fees to play sports.
CC - Now, what about cycling in Canada? You have been somewhat critical of the CCA (Canadian Cycling Association) and the support you have received over the years.
LAM - From an athlete's view, nothing has changed. I would think the federation is about the athlete at the end of the day. It makes me wonder what their vision is.
We need more development, because without development if you start with a 1000 kids interested in cycling you will have only 20 that make it to the provincial level, and nobody at the international level. You take care of your family, develop your riders. We need more development.
I'm thinking about it mostly from the Track perspective:
The CCA always holds Trials two to four weeks before a World Cup - you need to space it out more for periodization; the athletes can't do two peaks that close together!
So I ask: where's the vision, where's the longevity?
CC - So it is more dollars or a reallocation of existing dollars?
LAM - I think it's both, but it needs to be about the athlete and for the athlete.
CC - Does the CCA need to focus on managing elite athlete programs, or should they put funding into coaches?
LAM - That's a really good question. If you don't have a national coach, then who is overseeing the direction of the program? Things will go astray, I think.
A national coach is good if they can keep an open mind. Eric (Van Den Eynde) is a great example - he is a great facilitator. Even though he has his own athletes, there are no favourites in selection or at an event.
CC - What could the CCA do better to really help athletes?
LAM - The most important thing is letting them know what is the vision, the mission. We need to know the overall plan - is it more racing, more training camps for development - what is the structure? And this should be out one year in advance so that we can periodize, we can plan.
They need to get input from experienced, elite riders, and let up and coming riders know what to shoot for.
They have to think of it as a business plan.
CC - What else?
LAM - What about linking up jobs that support athletes; an 'adopt an athlete' program. That could be phenomenal. It would give work experience and skills to athletes - something like the Home depot program.
Also, build relationships with sporting suppliers, that would be open for developing athletes that don't have sponsors.
What about incentives - rewards for breaking Canadian records, making international podiums. Canadian Airlines used to have a free ticket program like this - Tanya Dubnicoff was flying for free all over the place!
Support for athletes to pay for their own coach, incentives that pay the cost of training camps ... there are many, many ideas.
CC - Finally, has it really sunk in that in a couple of days you are going to officially retire?
LAM - Well, now I have just said it for the first time out loud today! It feels a little weird.
I've been 20 years as an athlete ... I don't know if you ever really retire. I will still keep riding, keep training, that's part of who I am. If I am riding and I see someone ahead, I will have to catch them ... if I see a sign, I will sprint ... it's something you do. Some people understand it - you get it or you don't.
This is just a new chapter, and you will have to wait for the next edition!
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