McMahon aims to repeat gold medal win

Brigitte McMahon cycling in this year's Triathlon World Cup Keystone

Brigitte McMahon brought Switzerland its only gold medal at the 2000 Olympics in Sydney.

This content was published on August 4, 2004 - 20:20

The 37-year-old triathlete from Zug says she is hoping for a repeat performance in Athens.

The triathlon made its appearance as an Olympic discipline in Sydney on September 16, 2000.

In an explosive start to the Games for Switzerland, triathletes Brigitte McMahon and Magali Messmer took gold and bronze.

One Olympiad later, only gold medallist McMahon is making the trip to Athens. Messmer was excluded by the Swiss Olympic Association for enrolling too late in the anti-doping programme.

Swiss athletes must undergo a full year’s surveillance to qualify for competition. Messmer only decided to go for the Olympics at the end of 2003.

Zurich triathlete Nicola Spirig, a junior world champion in 2001, is competing alongside McMahon in Athens.

McMahon gave birth to a daughter - her second child - after her big win in Sydney and has slipped to 26th in the world rankings.

But she says the yearning for Olympic competition has driven her for the past four years, and she believes she is capable of repeating her Sydney success.

swissinfo: What does it mean to you to have a second chance of Olympic gold?

Brigitte McMahon: Taking part in these Olympics has been my main goal for the past four years. I have worked towards it every day, so it took up a lot of my time and attention.

Sydney was an unforgettable time for me. The crowds were so enthusiastic and they created a fabulous atmosphere. I’ll always remember the atmosphere in the Olympic village, and the good times I had there.

swissinfo: In Athens, you’ll defend your title. What are you hoping for?

B.M.: Most of all, I want to perform to my full potential. Beyond that, I’ll wait and see what happens. In a triathlon, race conditions and luck play a significant role in deciding whether you put in a good performance or not. But I think if all goes well, anything is possible...

swissinfo: You said these Olympic Games were your main goal for the past four years. How did you prepare?

B.M.: First off, you need to earn the points in qualifying competitions in order to be selected. Having done that, I followed a training regime to get into top form in time.

For now, everything revolves around achieving this four-year objective. But the preparation wasn’t much different from any other competition. It’s only the sheer dimension of the event, the fact that it’s the Olympic Games, that makes it special.

swissinfo, Raphael Donzel

Key facts

Member of the Swiss swimming team from 1986 to 1992.
Swiss swimming champion at 100m backstroke and 200m backstroke in 1990.
Member of the Swiss triathlon team since 1995.
Gold medallist, 2000 Olympic Games in Sydney.

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In brief

The triathlon (1.5km swim, 40km cycle and 10km run) will take place in Vouliagmeni, to the south of Athens.

Five Swiss triathletes were selected (Brigitte McMahon and Nicola Spirig for the women; Olivier Marceau, Sven Riederer and Reto Hug for the men).

The triathlon takes place on August 25 for women, and August 26 for men.

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