June 27, 2008 (Ottawa, ON) — With much enthusiasm the Canadian Cycling Association’s (CCA) High Performance Manager, Sean O’Donnell, presented the 2008 Olympic XC MTB team in what he deems to be a “strong and experienced team, with a good chance of earning a medal in both the men’s and women’s events”.
The team will consist of:
– Marie-HÃ©lÃ¨ne PrÃ©mont, QC
– Catherine Pendrell, BC
– Geoff Kabush, BC
– Seamus McGrath, BC
Returning team member Olympic silver medalist in Athens in 2004, Marie-HÃ©lÃ¨ne PrÃ©mont from QC, was very confident in explaining that she has the potential to reach the podium again. “I’m much more relaxed than at Athens, I know what the Games are, am really prepared and more confident it will go well,” adding later, “I know my own form and my competitors”.
PrÃ©mont has reached all five UCI World Cup podiums this season and is a very respectable 3rd overall.
The second women’s team member is BC-based Catherine Pendrel (originally from New Brunswick). “It’s really exciting, I feel training is on track & that I will be ready for a really good race,” said Pendrel who’s had a fantastic season, with three top-10 finishes on the UCI World Cup circuit, and earning a 6th place at the recent MTB World Championships in Italy. She also raced the test event on the very physically demanding Olympic course in Beijing last September. “There’s no rest, and it’s similar terrain to the Kamloops course, dry hard-packed soil,” she added.
BC’s Geoff Kabush and Seamus McGrath will represent the men. Veterans of Canada’s MTB national team with proven results on the World Cup circuit, they admit that the biggest challenge will be the heat and pollution. “We have all raced in heat, and have tested strategies with pre-cooling such as ice-vests before the race, throwing cold water on ourselves to try and keep cool in extreme heat,” said Kabush. He adds that “the strategy is to avoid pollution as long as possible, put clean air filters in the [hotel] room, wear masks when training”.
The team will remain in Canada until they fly to Beijing where they will arrive 5-7 days prior to the competition. “We’ve had ongoing discussions with athletes about this,” comments O’Donnell. “They wanted to focus on getting ready for the Games instead of traveling to foreign countries and not being aware of the conditions. They know how to prepare of themselves and we (CCA) trust them to do the right thing.”
McGrath added, “I’ve tried everything in the book to adapt at big races. At home you can control things best, get good sleep and training. We don’t want to change much before the Olympics — go with what you know.”
National team coach, Houshang Amiri, agrees with the athletes. “Each knows what works best for them and we are trusting them in this regard.”
Canada can look forward to an exciting MtB race in Beijing with the women competing on August 22 and the men on August 23.