Mountain biker Marie-Helene Premont breathing easier now
Canadian mountain biker Marie-Helene Premont is breathing a lot easier these days.
The last image many Canadians might have of Premont is from the 2008 Beijing Olympics, where she began hyperventilating during her race and had to stop.
The 2008 World Cup champion would like people to forget about that incident, because she certainly has.
"It's behind me and I prefer looking forward," said Premont, who's competing this weekend at the world championships in Champery, Switzerland. "I think we talked about it a lot. There's a London Olympics next year and we can forget about the past and just look forward."
She didn't know it at the time, but the 2004 Olympic silver medalist was suffering from exercise-induced asthma. That's now completely under control and the 33-year-old from Chateau Richer, Que., has demonstrated that with a fourth-place ranking in the World Cup standings. It's her highest ranking since 2008.
Canada is a powerhouse in women's mountain biking with world No. 1 ranked Catharine Pendrel of Kamloops, B.C., a winner of three World Cups this season, and Emily Batty of Brooklin, Ont., who was eighth.
Premont had talked about retiring after Beijing, but her return isn't related to what happened at those Olympics.
"I'm doing this because I like the sport, I really like what I'm doing, I like the life, I like every race I'm doing," she said. "The Olympics I know now it's just one race and everything can happen. I'm not going to spend another four years in mountain biking to do one race.
"I like to train. It's not a sacrifice for me to do all that training. I like it. I like the adrenaline I can get on my mountain bike. I like cycling. I like the sport. I like the atmosphere on the venues."
Premont has completed her studies to become a pharmacist and now needs 600 hours to get her permit to work alone.
"I like helping people to get better."
Among her charitable endeavours is supporting the children's charity Enfant Soleil.
"There is never enough money for children to help them to get healthier," said Premont.