June 27/08 3:08 am - Canadian Olympic Mountain Bike Team Announced
Posted by Editor on 06/27/08
Canadian Olympic Mountain Bike Team Announced
The Canadian Cycling Association has formally released the names of the two men and two women who will represent Canada in the mountain bike events at the Beijing Olympic Games in August. There are no surprises: it will be Geoff Kabush and Seamus McGrath for the men, and Marie-Helene Premont and Catharine Pendrel for the women.
"All four have a history of strong performances at the international level," commented Sean O'Donnell for the CCA. "It is a strong team, a very experienced team, and we feel there is good medal potential."
Both Premont and Pendrel have been on the podium during the World Cups this season, with Premont the current World Cup leader. Premont was the silver medalist at the Athens Games in 2004.
"I knew that I will be on the team for a while, so it's not a big surprise," commented Premont. "But I'm very happy about the team, I think we can do great things at the Games."
This will be Catharine Pendrel's first Olympics. The Kamloops-based rider moved into the ranks of top-10 contenders last year, and has now stepped up to top-5.
"What does being named to the Olympic team mean? That's a big question. It means so many things. It's an incredible honour to go for the number 1 ranked country in women's mtb. I feel like it is my way to give back to the people that have helped me get here. My coach, Dan Proulx, my husband Keith, my parents Bruce and Johanna and my brother Geoff, and many great sponsors present and past: Luna and ClifBar, Norco and the Bike Barn. I know it is going to be an amazing experience."
"As for my Goals & Expectations: Last year the CCA stated that their goal for the women was to earn one medal and one top 5. I have prepared this year with that goal in mind. I didn't just want to make it to the Olympics, but wanted to go, knowing I could do a top 5 there. My goal will be to ride the best race I can. After racing the test event I think I can have a strong performance on that course and after two great Worlds I know I can be competitive when the other women are on the top of their game."
On the men's side, it is a second trip to the Olympics for both Kabush (Sydney, 2000) and McGrath (Athens, 2004). Each finished 9th, and each is looking to improve upon that results.
"It has been eight years since my first somewhat unexpected trip to the 2000 Olympics and since then it has been my primary goal to return to what is the biggest stage in sport," explains Geoff Kabush. "The last couple years have been great but I never take anything for granted; it is a great honor to finally see my name down on paper representing Canada at the Olympics again."
"Since my last trip I have matured a lot as an athlete and I am excited to be heading to Beijing as I am coming into my prime. Team Maxxis has provided me with incredible support leading into this year and I feel very strong mentally and physically as the Games get closer; I feel like I have been saving a little bit of my batteries for this final push in the next couple months."
"I respect my competition but I am not intimidated and I feel like I can really compete at the front of the race if everything comes together on August 23rd. It is a lot of fun racing my bike and I want to say thanks to everyone who has supported my career along the way."
Seamus McGrath, who is about to start the BC Bike Race on Saturday, spoke with us from Victoria. "It's awesome. I'm totally excited about it, and glad to get the call. Obviously, when you go to the Olympics there's a lot of pressure because everyone is looking for a medal. But when I look back now, 9th was a very good result. Now, a top 5 finish is a goal that I have."
"To prepare I will be doing the BC Bike Race to revisit my base; it will be good, hard training. After that I will focus on good rides in Mont Ste Anne and Bromont (World Cups); the timing is very good for my preparation. And the fact that I am used to the summer heat, being from Ontario is definitely going to be a big factor, I hope."