Meet Olympic medalist Annette Edmondson

Nettie Edmondson - Photo copyright Cycling Australia  John Veage low resLate last year I was at an event staged by Australian Cycling Executives (ACE) and Annette (Nettie) Edmondson was a special guest. I was fortunate enough to have a chat with Nettie and asked her if I could interview her for Women Who Cycle. Here’s the result:

Q: How old were you when you started riding? What got you started?

I was 13 years old when I was selected for cycling by the Talent Identification Program at the South Australian Institute of Sport after they tested a range of students for their physical attributes and capabilities. I had never considered cycling as a ‘sport’. I saw it more as a hobby and didn’t actually know there was a whole ‘racing’ world out there. I gave the Talent Search’s year-long track and road program a crack, really enjoyed it and here I still am today!

Q: Why did you switch from sprint to endurance events on the track?

I did both sprinting and endurance riding until I was 16 years old, but then started to specialise in the more ‘sprint’ orientated events. I think due to my success on the Australian scene, my progress was very promising and this naturally kept things exciting and upbeat. After an injury, my progress slowed and I was finding it very hard to motivate myself at training due to the lack of sprinter numbers in South Australia and Australia. I found the sessions very long and repetitive and slowly but surely, my love for the sport started to fizzle out. I kept at the sport until my first senior nationals in 2010, but then that was it. I took an indefinite break, with no intention of returning to the sport.

I did a bit of travelling and picked up a few part time jobs. It wasn’t until four months had passed that something ‘clicked’. I wasn’t done with cycling. I hadn’t achieved the things that I wanted to acheive and felt that I still had so much more to give. Obviously something wasn’t working before so I sat down with Tim Decker – the head cycling coach at the South Australian Institute of sport (and also my mentor), and we discussed the idea of perhaps changing disciplines and focussing on the newly announced Olympic event, the omnium.

Q: Can you describe how it felt to win a medal at your first Olympic Games? Was it a help or hinderance to have both your brother and boyfriend on the same Olympic track team?

I went into the Olympic Games hoping to better the two silvers I had won at the Track Cycling World Championships a few months prior. I really wanted to win gold in both my events, but after the devastation of coming 4th in the team pursuit, that bronze medal in the omnium was so much more important. Standing on the podium, watching an Australian flag rise for me, my family, friends and my country was ‘out of this world’. I was hyperventilating with excitement. Never in my career have I felt so proud.

It was really special to have both my boyfriend and brother with me throughout the whole Olympic journey. When things were going well, or going poorly, it meant so much to have the support of a familiar face to pick each other up or share excitement with.

Q: Do you prefer track or road racing?

At the moment I enjoy the track. I think that’s because I’m more used to it, I’m more comfortable with it and I guess it’s what I do best. I do however enjoy balancing my track season with the road. I feel that each discipline complements each other and gives you a nice balance both mentally and physically. This will be my first professional road season and I’m really looking forward to it, perhaps ask me this question again at the end of the year!!

Q: You’ve joined the Orica-AIS team for 2013, what does that mean to you? Will you be racing in Europe?

I sure have. This was definitely one of my goals. I really wanted to be selected for a professional road team and to be a part of an Australian project is really exciting. I guess it means a slightly more comfortable start, knowing the majority of the team, both riders and staff. The majority of my races will be in Europe, with a few races in China and the possibility of a couple in America.

Q: I read that you got a very high uni entrance score, do you plan to go to University when your cycling career is over? What do you plan to study?

I am currently studying a Bachelor of Health Sciences part-time at Adelaide University. I do have the intention of transferring to Medicine and completing a Post-Grad course, however with the amount of attendence that involves as a full-time course this will have to be once I finish cycling.