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British Columbia’s Catherine Pendrel takes Bronze at Olympic Mountain Bike Race

Kamloops local Catharine Pendrel made one of the most amazing comebacks in mountain bike history to win the bronze medal in Women’s Mountain Bike on Saturday. She was followed across the line in fourth place by team mate Emily Batty. Jenny Rissveds of Sweden won the gold medal and Maja Wloszczowska of Poland took the silver.

Pendrel got caught in a crash at the end of the start loop before the riders headed out for six laps of the Olympic course, dropping to 25th out of the 29 starters and over 50 seconds back. The crash also affected her derailleur and she had to ride the first climb in the only gear that would work, before stopping at the pits to get it fixed.

She quickly went to work reeling in the riders in front and was up to 12th by the second lap. By the midpoint of the race Pendrel was up to eighth and had joined the group containing Batty that was chasing the leaders. When Batty attacked the chase group, Pendrel bridged across and then attacked on her own to move into fourth and then third as the Swiss rider Jolanda Neff tired.

Pendrel then surged to within 20 seconds of Wloszczowska and the silver medal before slowing slightly in the last lap and suffering a small crash. Batty also surged and came within two seconds of catching Pendrel on the finish line.

“It’s unbelievable,” said Pendrel. “Before the race I would have been happy with my career if I didn’t have an Olympic medal, but I’m sure happy that I do! It’s such a feeling, and we’ve worked so hard for this for so many years, with my coach and my team and my husband, that it’s just amazing that it came together.”

“At the beginning of the race, getting in the crash and then my shifting stopped working … I just thought ‘everything is going wrong!’. But I’m used to having bad starts and I know I can work my way up through the field. We had prepared for every scenario, and Dan [Proulx, national coach] was great at reminding me that in La Bresse [French World Cup] I went from a minute-forty back to a silver medal, so I knew that I could close the gap and that’s what I set about doing today. It was a best case scenario coming into the finish because I knew that if I wasn’t bronze that Emily would be. I almost took myself out of bronze at the finish [in a crash], but I just so happy that it all worked out in the end.”

“As much as I wanted to get a medal for myself, I also wanted to help Team Canada. It’s exciting and it bolsters all of us when we do well. In cycling we have such a strong program and I feel it is only getting better. We’re a strong nation and cycling is definitely a Canadian sport. We seen this success and we’re going to keep building on it.”

“I’m so filled with mixed emotions right now,” admitted Batty. “After London’s experience with a broken collarbone to now, finishing literally ten feet off the podium … it’s some heartbreak. So I’m happy, but also really sad.”

“My preparation was amazing, and I’m so thankful for the [Cycling Canada] federation and especially my husband, Adam, who’s been coaching me all this way. I raced clean and I felt strong. It went pretty much according to plan and I was in the top five off the start loop, so from that point on I knew I was going to be a contender for the medals.”

Original post from Canadian Cyclist

Read and watch more coverage of Catherine’s bronze medal performance at CBC News

Follow Pendrel on Facebook and Instagram for a behind-the-scenes look at her journey to Rio.