Bronze medal winner Catharine Pendrel, returning to Kamloops from Rio Tuesday, Aug. 22, can expect some hometown fanfare for her Olympic mountain biking feat.
Pendrel, who managed to claim third spot in women’s mountain biking Saturday after a fall early in the race, is scheduled to arrive at Kamloops Airport at 1:45 p.m.
Her Olympic performance on the weekend has been described as one of the greatest moments in the competitive sport of mountain biking.
“It was kind of a like a storybook ending,” said Carolyn Boomer, general manager of Pacific Sport Institute. “She is just such an outstanding individual.”
Boomer watched Saturday’s televised race and thought Pendrel, 35, was in for a repeat of her race at the London Olympics four years ago. A world champion at the time, she placed a disappointing ninth at those Games. Instead, she defied the odds and overcame the gap.
The crash also affected Pendrel’s derailleur, forcing her to ride the first climb in the only functioning gear before a pit stop for repairs. After that, she closed the distance and was up to 12th spot by the second lap.
By the midpoint of the race Pendrel was up to eighth and had joined the group, chasing the leaders, a group that included teammate Emily Batty.
When Batty made her move on the chase group, Pendrel bridged across and attacked on her own to move into fourth, then third as Swiss rider Jolanda Neff lost some momentum.
Pendrel then surged to within 20 seconds of Poland’s Maja Wloszczowska and silver medal territory before slowing slightly in the final lap and suffering a small crash. Batty also surged at the climax of the race and came within two seconds of catching Pendrel at the finish.
“It’s unbelievable,” Pendrel said. “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.”
The City will have representatives on hand Tuesday to give Pendrel an official greeting and congratulations for making it to the podium.
Pendrel's stop here will be brief, since she’ll soon be catching a plane to Europe for more international competition.