New Brunswick

Catharine Pendrel used early crash as motivation to win bronze

Fredericton-born Olympic cross-country mountain biker Catharine Pendrel says her slow start in Rio de Janeiro was "motivating."

New Brunswick biker says support from Fredericton and Harvey has been 'phenomenal'

Canada's Catharine Pendrel celebrates bronze in the women's cross-country mountain bike at the 2016 Olympic Summer Games in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil on Saturday, Aug. 20. (Sean Kilpatrick/The Canadian Press)

When Catherine Pendrel suffered an early race crash in her Olympic race on Saturday, the New Brunswick-born athlete didn't panic.

"I race well when I'm coming from the back," says the Fredericton-born Olympic cross-country mountain biker.

"It's motivating to be able to pick off riders and feel that forward momentum."

That's a positive spin on a race that was, objectively, fraught with issues.

Pendrel rallied from an early crash to snag bronze in women's cross-country mountain biking in Rio on Saturday.

"Just as we headed into the first full lap, I crossed wheels with another girl and went down," says Pendrel.

But that didn't mean she gave up.

"Our races are an hour and a half and it's never over," she says.

Pendrel won bronze in Saturday's race and Canadian teammate Emily Batty finished in fourth place.
"I've been in races before when I've been back by a large time gap and had to make it up. I knew it was possible, and I knew that I couldn't walk away from that race not having tried everything to put myself into contention."

After picking herself up, it was "going OK," she says, until "my shifting stopped working for half of the first lap. I only had one gear to do the longest climb of the course and the long descent."

She stopped at a tech zone to get it fixed, only to find herself over a minute back at the end of the lap.

"You can only make the best of the situation that you have. So I just set the hardest pace that I could so that I could catch as many positions as possible," says Pendrel.

A crash wasn't going to stop the mountain biker from Harvey Station from reaching the podium. 10:52

By the final lap she'd caught up with teammate Emily Batty.

"We were fighting for bronze with one descent to go," she says, before Pendrel managed to open a 20- to 25-second gap.

"It was a super tight battle to the line with Emily that I just made by a couple of seconds."

The 35-year-old was born in Fredericton, and went to high school in Harvey Station, where friends and family gathered Saturday to watch her race.  

"It's been amazing," she says.

This was Pendrel's third trip to the Olympics. She was a medal favourite in 2012, but she failed to reach the podium. (Pascal Guyot/AFP/Getty Images)

"The support that I've gotten from Fredericton, Harvey, and New Brunswick in general has just been phenomenal. It's great."

This was Pendrel's third trip to the Olympics: though a medal favourite in 2012, she failed to podium.

Pendrel, a member of the Canadian National team since 2004, was the world champion in cross-country mountain biking in 2011.

She also won the 2014 and 2007 Pan American Games before her bronze victory in this year's Olympics.

With files from Information Morning Fredericton