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"Worth more than gold"

Brigitte McMahon with oldest child Dominic after her Olympic win Keystone

Two days after giving birth to her second child, Olympic gold medallist Brigitte McMahon has been talking to swissinfo about motherhood, training schedules and her plans for future competitions.

This content was published on May 25, 2001 - 18:39

swissinfo: Brigitte, just eight and a half months after your Olympic triathlon gold medal and little Jennifer comes along. Was it a case of clinical planning?

Brigitte McMahon: Well of course there was planning. But babies aren't quite so easy to plan for as other things. So we've been very fortunate to have this happen so quickly after the Olympics.

swissinfo:It's been two great feelings for you and Mike (McMahon's husband and trainer) within less than a year. Is it possible to compare the two?

Brigitte McMahon: Well, they're both great events. But it's definitely true that having a baby is a big step, much bigger even than winning a gold medal at the Olympics.

swissinfo: You kept training during your pregnancy. Presumably that didn't involve full Olympic distances?

Brigitte McMahon: No, but I could just tell that I was feeling a lot better when I exercised. I still felt healthy and normal and for me it was just the best way to keep a balanced life.

Mike McMahon: We also used it as a chance not to follow any set training programme. After years and years of having your husband tell you what to do, Brigitte was able to just listen to her own body. Before there were houses and cars and things like that, pregnant women had to move around a lot more than now and I think it's just a cultural thing now that women are more sedentary.

swissinfo: Do you think being a mother strengthens your body as an athlete?

Brigitte McMahon: It probably doesn't matter in terms of actual success. But having children puts a perspective on your career, because suddenly you have an important job to do aside from being an athlete. That also helps take a lot of the pressure off you as an athlete and for me that helps to bring out my best.

swissinfo: And you're already planning a return to competition fairly soon?

Brigitte McMahon: Yes. I'm planning to listen to my body again just as I did during the pregnancy. And according to that I'll judge when I'm ready to start racing again. Right now I'm feeling good enough to start my workouts again pretty soon and see how that goes.

swissinfo: And what will be the next big step for Brigitte McMahon - the third child or the second gold medal?

Brigitte McMahon: Well, I think the second gold medal will be first! Even that's still a little up in the air, though. But it's definitely a big goal to be in Athens in 2004 participating and doing my best.

interview by Mark Ledsom

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