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Olympian Linda Jackson: Smiling through the pain

The Story


Linda Jackson's face contorted in anguish. Not in the cyclist's worst dreams had she imagined a crash sending her over the handlebars and out of the biggest race of her life. In this CBC Television clip, the 37-year-old former banker can watch herself endure yesterday's Olympic ordeal in Atlanta and manage a smile. Her right arm is in a sling but it isn't broken. In two weeks, she'll have one more shot at an Olympic medal.

Medium: Television
Program: CBC Sports
Broadcast Date: July 22, 1996
Guest: Linda Jackson
Host: Ron McLean
Duration: 2:56

Did You know?


• Linda Jackson crashed early in the 104-kilometre cycling road race - her specialty - when Svetlana Bubnenkova of Russia tumbled ahead of her. Television footage showed Jackson catapult off her bike, with her arm striking either a sign or a mailbox. She was 37 years old. "The last four years have been headed to this (Olympic) goal," she tearfully told reporters. "I gave up a lot for this. It's probably one of the most disappointing days in my life."

• For many Canadians, the crash became a defining image of the Atlanta Olympics. Jackson, known as a tough competitor who shone while hill climbing, was able to joke through the pain and disappointment. "It's just that this is my last chance at an Olympics," she told reporters. "That's what makes it so hard. I'm 37. I have other plans in my life. I'd like to have kids, although I have to find someone to date first."

• As Jackson got medical help, Canadian teammate Clara Hughes cycled to a bronze medal. Although Jackson suffered swelling and tendon damage, she was able to compete 13 days later in the Olympic individual time trial. She went on to finish ninth. Jackson was in temporary retirement from the sport during the Sydney Games in 2000. She did not qualify for the 2004 Olympics in Athens.

• Jackson was born Nov. 13, 1958, in Ottawa. She grew up in suburban Nepean. Jackson took up cycling in 1992 as part of her rehabilitation from a ski injury. At the time, she was living in San Franciso and working as a $300,000 US-per-year vice president with investment bankers Alex Brown and Sons. Soon, she was riding 65 kilometres to and from work. Friends noticed her rapidly developing cycling talent and urged her to enter races.

• Jackson finished an amazing third at the 1992 Canadian road race championships. In August 1993 she quit her banking job to race full-time. Jackson made her first national team at age 34, when many athletes are considering retirement. She quickly achieved international success, including fifth-place finishes in the women's Tour de France races in 1994 and 1995 and a Commonwealth Games silver in 1994. In her first full year of racing she earned $3,500.

• In 1996, Jackson became only the third Canadian cyclist to reach the podium of a world championship road race, earning a bronze medal in Lugano, Switzerland. In 1997, she had seven top-three finishes, including gold at the prestigious Tour de l'Aude in France. Jackson's streak continued in 1998 with another Commonwealth silver and first place at the 1998 HP International Women's Challenge.

• In January 2000, at age 41, Jackson announced she was retiring from cycling to concentrate on starting a family with live-in boyfriend Kevin Deierling, a California computer engineer. Jackson came out of retirement about two years later and in June 2003 finished 11th at the Canadian road cycling championships. She did not qualify for the 2004 Athens Olympics.

• Linda Jackson to Sports Illustrated in 1999: "Instead of working all those hours (at my desk job) and feeling like crap, I'm living a life of seeing different places and competing against the best. I've never looked back."


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