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Earlier today, Cycling Australia named the 25 athletes who together comprise the Australian Olympic Cycling Team for the Rio 2016 Olympic Games. One of those names belonged to Annette Edmonson, the cyclist who took home bronze in the six-discipline Omnium event at London 2012. In the years since, Edmonson has gone on to win multiple World Championships, in addition to her role as part of a world record breaking team pursuit team last year. Not bad for a 24-year-old who gave up on her sport two years before winning her first Olympic medal.
Here, ahead of the ever-shortening road to Rio and her second Olympic Games, the Omnium world champion Annette Edmonson speaks with GRAZIA about the importance of keeping it in the family – again, no mean feat when you consider the fact that her brother is fellow Olympic cyclist and individual pursuit World Champion, Alex Edmonson.
— Annette Edmondson (@NettieEdmo) July 5, 2016
“There was a loop outside my primary school where I used to race against the boys. I remember just trying so hard to beat them. There was always two or three of them, and then there was me. That’s my earliest sporting memory: just trying to beat the boys. Looking toward Rio, I’m a bit more relaxed because this time I know what’s coming. I’m just trying to focus on myself this time and not let it overwhelm me – just to focus on only those things that I can control.
“A few years before the Games, I decided to swap [disciplines] and change to track endurance cycling. A lot of people told me, ‘No, that’s not possible, it’s not going to work’. After a couple of hard events, they really got in my ear, but I used that as motivation and all of a sudden I made the team. But they did apologise and say, ‘Okay, we were wrong’. [It felt good] to prove them wrong, the naysayers who thought I couldn’t do it.
“I think I’ve been blessed to have a lot of positive people supporting me, [especially] my parents who encouraged me to do what makes me happy. If things got tough, like when I was trying to study at the same time – which was actually quite tough and I wasn’t able to commit 100 per cent to either my score or my study – they were the ones who said, ‘Why not defer?’. They’ve given me little reality checks, I think, and a bit of clarity in certain situations. I’ve just been lucky to have such a good support system around me. It’s quite funny though, because a lot of them time when they have time off work they always come to my events, whether it be national or in state. I often have to say, ‘Why don’t you have a proper holiday and do something for yourselves?’. They always say, ‘You know, we actually enjoy supporting you and seeing how you go’. So I think that has always been sort of surprising because I thought they’d get over it after a while, but it’s really nice to know they’re genuinely interested in what we’re is up to.
“In 2010, I really wasn’t enjoying my cycling so I actually gave it away. It took me about four months to work out that I wasn’t finished and I think I went through a pretty rough patch during those off months. I wasn’t sure that I had made the right decision or not, and that emptiness of knowing I hadn’t achieved what I wanted to achieve, and what I thought I could achieve, that really turned me around and made me come back to the belief that I could make it to the top.
“I think when people have worked really hard to achieve something they’ve wanted for so long, then that’s when happiness is generally what comes to mind.”
Cover image: Quinn Rooney/Getty Images