August 23, 2016 (Rio de Janeiro, Brazil) – Team Canada concluded the Rio Games with two bronze medals in cycling, and 22 medals total, to finish 10th overall in the final medal standings for one of the country’s best Summer Games.
Our Women’s Team Pursuit squad of Jasmin Glaesser, Kirsti Lay, Allison Beveridge, Georgia Simmerling and Laura Brown won bronze on the track, while Catharine Pendrel pulled off an amazing comeback after an early crash to take home bronze in the women’s MTB race.
The Women’s Team Pursuit squad with Glaesser, Tara Whitten and Gillian Carleton won bronze at London 2012 and prior to that Canada took home hardware from the Athens Games in 2004 when Lori-Ann Muenzer claimed Canada’s first Olympic gold medal with her victory on the track and Marie-Helene Premont won MTB silver. At the 1996 Games in Atlanta, Canada took home a record five medals with Alison Sydor winning MTB silver, Clara Hughes claiming two bronze (ITT and RR), Brian Walton took home silver (Track) and Curt Harnett won bronze (Track).
We caught up with Jacques Landry, High Performance Director and Head Coach at Cycling Canada for his assessment of Rio and Team Canada’s plans going forward through the next quadrennial.
With two Olympic cycling medals can you give us your assessment of Team Canada’s performance in Rio?
Jacques Landry: We aimed for the podium in both of our targeted medal programs, which were the women’s MTB and women’s Team Pursuit, so happy about that. We were competitive in the women’s Time Trial, women’s Team Sprint, women’s Sprint and Keirin, men’s Keirin, women’s Omnium and men’s BMX so another medal or two was possible but didn’t substantiate.
How were the facilities, venues, the courses for road and MTB and the velodrome, and the village?
JL: The venues were great. With MTB, Road and BMX we made some visits prior to the Games to get to know the courses properly, and get the lay of the land as well to avoid any surprises.
Because of the delay in finishing the construction of the velodrome our riders and staff did not have a chance to ride the track prior to arriving to the Games. There was a last minute opportunity to ride the track in June but it interfered with our training periodization, so we did not travel down at that time. It would have been good to pre-ride the track, but like most countries, we figured an optimal preparation without travel in June was better than getting to know the track before hand.
What were the highs and lows in Rio?
JL: The highs were definitely the two medals. As for the lows, it’s always tough to see athletes and staff that have worked so hard over the last four years or more not reach the performance benchmarks they had set.
Going forward how will you tackle the next quadrennial for Tokyo?
JL: We have already entered a debrief mode with our athletes, coaches and support staff. From the debriefs we will build our quadrennial plan. At the moment it is too early to say in detail how we will address our next quad but suffice to say that we will continue to build our talent pool in our Olympic and even Paralympic programs and continue to develop the talent we have identified thus far; as well as develop the talent found during searches we’ll hold in the coming months.
When the Milton velodrome was built there were comparisons to the UK’s flourishing track program and they won 6 golds in Rio – is there more we can learn from the Brits?
JL: There is definitely more to be learned from the Brits and that is what we will be looking at in our debriefs. Not that money is everything but the British cycling program operates with a 4-year budget that is more than four times greater than our quadrennial budget. The funding, or lack thereof in comparison to GB, means that we have to target more and employ less staff that also end up doing more to secure the medals we get.
The Brits also have a cycling culture that is much more established and dates back further to ours. It takes time to build that culture but we are getting there. However developing the culture can be helped by performances at Games, Tours, Worlds, etc. and for that a program needs to be well funded.
For the Brits success breeds success. We have that in the women’s Team Pursuit and MTB programs and just need to continue building on it. Of course more funds will help.