No need to be a freak to win gold, says victorious Van Vleuten

Tokyo 2020 Olympics - Cycling - Road - Women's Individual Time Trial - Final - Fuji International Speedway - Shizuoka, Japan - July 28, 2021. Annemiek van Vleuten of the Netherlands celebrates winning gold. REUTERS/Matthew Childs

OYAMA TOWN: Dutch cyclist Annemiek van Vleuten said it was not necessary to be “a freak” to win an Olympic gold medal after finally bagging her first on Wednesday at the age of 38.

The three-time world champion has suffered Olympic heartache before, most recently on Sunday when she celebrated “victory” when she crossed the line in the road race, only to discover she had actually finished second.

Three days later there was no confusion as she roared around a 22km time trial circuit in 30 minutes to win by a massive 56 seconds from Switzerland’s Marlen Reusser.

“No matter the result, I think after I passed the finish line I knew I had left nothing there. I was in the flow, I was in the zone, and that’s usually the feeling I want to have,” Van Vleuten told reporters.

“I really endured and enjoyed to be here in my best possible level. I’m not a perfect athlete, but I have a gold medal. I sometimes felt like you needed to be like a freak to get a gold medal, but I’m not a freak.

“I learned that it’s not necessary to be a freak to win a gold medal and today it’s a really nice bonus.”

Van Vleuten, who rides for the Movistar professional road team, has said she is unlikely to compete at the Paris 2024 Olympics. But she might want to think again.

Meanwhile, Primoz Roglic claimed Slovenia’s first-ever Olympic cycling gold medal with a perfectly-executed ride in the road time trial to dominate the field in 55:04. — Reuters

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