Posted by Editor on 01/20/05
Lori-Ann Muenzer Interview
Last August, Lori-Ann Muenzer became the first Canadian athlete to win an Olympic gold medal in cycling (and one of only three gold medals for Canada in Athens). In recognition of her accomplishments, Canadian Press chose her for the 2004 Bobby Rosenfeld Award as the top Canadian female athlete of the year, and our readers selected her for two Canadian Cyclist of the Year awards - Female Athlete and Best Individual Ride of the Year. Lori-Ann's CC Awards were the first ever for a track rider. Lori-Ann has had a punishing schedule after winning in Athens, as she prepares for the world championships and handles all of the media and personal appearance requests made of her. However, CC did manage to talk with Lori-Ann for an update on how things are going.
Canadian Cyclist - First of all, congratulations on winning two CC Awards.
Lori-Ann Muenzer - That was pretty cool. I didn't know what was going on with the voting, I haven't had a whole lot of time, so it was a complete surprise to me. Every time something like this happens to me, I keep thinking "How much better can it get?".
CC - How has winning the Olympic title changed things in your life?
LAM - Well, training is the easy part! The hard part is to coordinate everything else. There are speaking requests, interviews, public appearances, and I'm also working on a book. Karl Wilberg is writing it, but I have to spend time with him on it. Plus, there is a documentary being made about me, and they're following me around. So, it's been a real whirlwind.
But, first and foremost, I'm still an athlete, and with the World Cup and world championships being moved up four months it meant that I was back to training right away.
CC - The book - how did that come about?
LAM - It just kind of happened. Karl is a good friend of Steen's (Madsen, Lori-Ann's coach), and they came to me. Karl already has insight into cycling, after racing in Europe. He's finished the first draft, and I have to read it through and proof it, and he's looking for a publisher.
CC - Can we talk a bit about the dream of winning an Olympic Gold Medal versus the reality?
LAM - Well, I had no expectations when I went into (Athens), so it is all new ground for me. There was a one in twelve shot of coming out Number 1, and it still shocks me at times that it happened. There is no manual on this about what to expect. I guess the other thing is that a lot of people I meet are still surprised at the lack of endorsements I received.
CC - That's disappointing?
LAM - Well, this is Canada ... And, I'm a different age bracket then a twenty-something with 2-3 Olympics in me. I'm having to work on a plan, to look for a good fit with two or three companies to work with. If I could be a voice to link athletes and corporations for more programs for Canadian athletes that would be really cool.
CC - Do you think your age and sex is a factor?
LAM - It's always a factor; I remember Laura Robinson opening a can of worms years ago (Robinson led a call for equal prize money in Toronto races, which became a controversial policy). I contacted IMG (sports management company) three years ago, and they said "call us when you win gold". Then, in Athens I saw Michelle Comeau (IMG agent) afterwards, and she asked me to call, but when I called they said no thanks, they were happy with the (two) gold medalists they had signed up.
I have to wonder - why stay with two (gold) medalists, when you could have all three? They're men; is that part of it? Or is it because I'm a 38 year old woman who has (a) law firm behind me? (Lori-Ann has worked for an Edmonton legal firm for many years, who has also been a sponsor for her)
CC - You've said already that you plan to keep racing until Beijing (2008)...
LAM - Yes, it is still in the plan. But that is four years, it is too far to think about right now. Steen and I break it down year by year, so this year (2005) it is the Worlds (Los Angeles in March), then Commonwealth Games (Australia, 2006), then Pan Am Games (2007), then Beijing.
CC - What does your schedule look like for the rest of the season?
LAM - I'm going to Australia for the last World Cup of the year on February 19th, then home for two weeks and then to LA. Going to Australia is a bit of a trek, but it's the last one, and it's part of my periodization plan. I need to secure a spot for the 500 (metre time trial), and that will be a good spot to get it. Plus, it is a good time to get some racing experience again, to make sure everything is on track.
CC - You have made no secret of your disappointment with the lack of acknowledgement by the Canadian Cycling Association (CCA) after winning in Athens.
LAM - It's been interesting. I would have thought the response would have been different, but winning a gold medal obviously didn't make any difference. Just that little acknowledgement would have been nice.
How come the Prime Minister can get a hold of me, but the president of our own federation can't? I don't think he did a great job on it. I talked with Pierre (Hutsebaut) from dope control - that was really great, he's supported me since 1989. And Debbie Villenueve (former CCA finance coordinator) sent an e-mail, but that's it.
CC - How about personal goals?
LAM - Well I have a show of my photographs at the Electrum Gallery (in Edmonton) right now. I dabble (in photography); I usually have my camera with me, so there are shots with the bike, traveling, whenever I see something of interest.
I'm also trying to set up a better schedule to talk with school kids, and I really want to take a holiday! It was supposed to be earlier (after the Olympics), but that didn't happen, so I'm looking at the first couple of weeks in April, after the end of the season.
Overall, life is great. Steen said "enjoy everything that's happening", and I still keep shaking my head, wondering how much better can it get?
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