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Interview with Lori-Ann Muenzer - Athens Olympics Sprint Champion

With the World Track Championships looming on the horizon, Womens Cycling.net presents an interview with the current Olympic Champion in the sprint. Talking about her rise to the top, the injuries on the way and her route since Athens, Lori-Ann Muenzer gave a unique insight into her love of cycling,,,,,, 

WomensCycling.net had the privilege of catching up with Lori-Anne Muenzer at the Sydney World Cup event in February, during her start-of-year training and racing visit to Australia. Lori-Anne was preparing for the World Championships in Los Angeles and competed in Australia aiming to gain some good form in the run up to the ‘World’s’. In addition to the World Cup, she rode the Australian National Track Championships in Adelaide, where she was third in the sprint, beating Kiwi Liz Williams for the bronze medal. (The event was won by Anna Meares from sister Kerrie Meares.) In Sydney, Lori-Ann picked up the bronze medal in the 500m TT and was fourth in the sprint.

 

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While competing at the Sydney event Lori-Anne was being filmed by Chris Wilberg, he and his brother are from a production company involved in the development of Lori-Anne’s new book, due for release later this year. The book and documentary project were initiated as a result of Lori-Anne’s successful Olympic campaign. When asked what the title of the book was, Lori-Anne was tightlipped “I can’t give all of my secrets away; you will have to wait until it’s released”.

Using the Australia trip and the Sydney World Cup as training, Lori-Anne was pleased with her performances during the event. “I’m not peaking yet; this event is day number six on the boards (velodrome) for me. I came from minus 30 degrees, snow and I have not had any board time”. Receiving the bronze at the Sydney event Lori-Anne added “Sydney has always been good for me, it started from the Sydney Olympics and last year I was here two weeks before the Melbourne Worlds and I medalled at that event, I am hoping this year will be the same. When I arrived at the track on Wednesday, I felt like I had come home, I love this track”.  

Women’s Cycling asked Lori-Anne about her favourite track in world given that she has ridden on most of them. “It would have to be a toss up between Sydney and Manchester, although, I don’t know because then there is Melbourne, and Brisbane, I rode that track for the Goodwill games in 1994, it’s an outdoor track, I broke the Australia flying 200m record, I felt like I had ridden it before, then I realized that it was identical to my track back in Edmonton that’s a 333m outdoor too, I suppose I just love the tracks in Australia” 

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Lori-Anne has managed to come back from injury many times during her career, when asked what has been the secret to that success she added “a positive attitude, a great coach, good communication with Steen Madsen (her coach). I knew I could go faster, when I was injured I knew I had to stop, learn from what was happening, then move on. I leant to understand that wining was not everything, finishing first or even 13th as I did at the Olympics in 2000, that was a personal best for me at that time, personally I won then

When asked who has supported her through the ups and downs of her career, Lori-Anne says categorically it comes down to just a few people “Steen, my coach, I can bounce anything off him, he’s my coach but he is also one of my best friends. We have had such a great working relationship, I would not want to work with any one else. The other person is Jack McCutchen, Brenda Miller’s husband (Brenda died in 2002) he’s been great. I hook up with him, my family are in Toronto so it seems to be Monday night my only night off from training, we have a BBQ, he puts three steaks on the grill, two for me one for him” Lori-Anne also talks fondly of her sister “she is my hero, she has two children. I get to be normal with her, just bounce stuff off her, sometime we don’t get to talk for a week because she is busy with the children, other times we talk every day 

 

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When asked if she had not been a cyclist, what she would have done, she responded “a cyclist”. “I did do some body building when I took a year off in 1994, I blew both my knees, I broke my collar bone, I was trying to do too much in a short time and did not at that time really understand what I was trying to achieve. That is where Steen has been so good for me, he explains things to me, he has the whole road map and makes sure I see the whole picture, I don’t have to understand exactly where the road will end but he helps me to figure out where I am right now  When asked if she had ever contemplated road racing instead of track, Lori-Anne added “ I used to road race, but not for a long time, every time I go up a hill, I think what the heck an I doing. I went riding with Lance Armstrong back in September last year, I buried myself in the bunch and I was fine, but as soon as they hit the hills, I said ‘bye’, the descent is great but I suck at hills” “I am 180lbs (81kg) and 5 foot 10inches, (180cm) I have always been stronger on the flat, I used to do criteriums which fits in well with riding the track” “When I first saw a velodrome I did not understand what it was I had to do, I just got on my bike and had a go and loved it

 

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Since competing at the Olympics in 2004, Lori-Anne’s world has been in a spin, she is asked to present to children at schools and to groups at all kinds of events, track racing is a minority sport in Canada and there are very few women taking part in the sport. Lori-Anne has this to say about her involvement with the children “If I can make a difference and inspire them to have a go at any sport, or for that matter to achieve at anything in life, be it sport or being an accountant, then I tell them to go for it. I think being older than most competitive sportswomen, children look at me and say, you’re as old as my mum and dad and I think they look at me differently. Anna Meares was 20 at the Olympics; I am old enough to be her mum. When it comes down to it though, the sky’s, the limit, when you want to do something, you have to go out and do it. If someone had said it would take this long I would have laughed, I am not sure I would have done it, but I have learned. If I came back in another life I know I would want to do the same again”. When asked if there were any plans for retirement, she added “I am still going fast why would I stop now? At the Olympics I did a personal best and a Canadian record in the 500m. It means I have not hit a plateau with my speed yet. I had not had any board time really before this event (Sydney) and I came third. I am going up against riders that train on a velodrome all year round, I have to get the snow off mine before I can even train on it, it would be easier to ski on it.”  

 

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“I am one rider, I have to go to many events on my own, when you look at the Australian and US teams they have a great feeder system and huge numbers of riders coming through. In Canada I am the only one, no one else has met the time standards, we have two decent tracks but they are thousands of miles apart and covered in snow or ice most of the year

In closing Women’s Cycling asked if Lori-Anne was looking forward to 2006 and the Commonwealth Games, she seemed excited at the thought of being back in Australia. “Melbourne is one of the best tracks in the world, I love riding there, actually I love Australia, every trip I take a little piece of Australia back to Canada with me, and so far I have a Drizabone coat, a hat and a vest, now I will have to find something else to take home  

A big 'thank-you' to Lori-Ann for her time.

 

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