Olympic Odyssey: The Women

Olympic Odyssey: The Women

By ITU Admin on 25/07/08 at 12:00 am

Former World Number one Chris Hill takes us to Beijing through the athletes eyes

This week Olympic Odyssey looks at six women racing the Games in mini profiles by visiting their website diaries for the latest on their Beijing build up.

Mari Rabie (South Africa), at 21 years of age, has made her countrys Olympic Games team and was the first African to podium at the world championships this year (bronze in under23). Racing in the Olympic Games has been a lifelong dream for the South African as her diary shows.

Diary quote: Another memory is of a 13-year-old me sitting on our living room floor, at 2am during the Sydney 2000 Olympic Games. It was the first time triathlon would feature in the Olympics and there was no chance in the world I would miss it, even though I had swim training the next morning at 5.15am. I remember the streets of Sydney looking absolutely packed. I kept on asking my mum during the mens swim, Where is Conrad? Where is Conrad? [Conrad Stoltz, first South African man to race an Olympics]. A tough question to answer during a wetsuit swim. 

My question was soon answered on the bike though. Conrad and Oliver Marceau had a successful breakaway on the bike, IN THE OLYMPICS! My parents had invited most of the local triathlon crowd over and Conrads break caused so much excitement in our house that we woke up my poor sister who was writing her final High School exams during that time. I remember thinking, One day I would like to be able to do that…

Best three 2008 results: Vancouver U23 world championships 3rd, New Plymouth world cup 20th, Mooloolaba world cup 26th. 

Look for: the young Rabie to gain experience in Beijing and just get better heading into London 2012. A top-15 contender.


Lisa Norden (Sweden) has burst onto the world triathlon stage and into Olympic medal contention with a fistful of breakthrough results at the start of the year. The under23 world champion from Hamburg did not waste any time in early 2008 producing three straight world cup podium results.

Diary quote: Finally its all 100 percent, Ill be on the start line in the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games. The world champs in Vancouver was the last chance to collect Olympic points. I finished number 27th on the ranking, and with that, Sweden also secured their slot among the 55 athletes who will be starting. Its been two years of hard work and a dedicated training and racing program to make this dream come true.

Im now taking a week off training which I will spend back home in Sweden. After that I will return to our camp in the Pyrenees where I will tackle the last bit of training leading up to the Games. Im really excited to have made the team and I will put everything I have in those last two months of training. Ill see you in Beijing.

Best three 2008 results: New Plymouth world cup 2nd, Lisbon European Championships 3rd, Mooloolaba world cup 3rd.

Look for: Norden to try in vain to keep in contact during the Beijing swim because if she can, she will be running for an Olympic medal. Coached by Darren Smith, Norden will have left no loose ends in her Beijing preparation. Podium contender.


Carolyn Murray (Canada) just keeps on improving as an athlete. And it is all coming at the right time in an Olympic year. With results that have progressively improved over the last couple of seasons, Murray cracked a world cup win in Richards Bay this year adding confidence to her great form.
Diary quote: I will travel to Turkey and race an ITU Continental Cup to get out the race jitters and as a prep for the big one. From there I will travel to Jeju, South Korea and meet up with Darren [Smithcoach] and Daniela [Ryftraining partner], joining the Swiss Olympic team for the final prep and heat acclimatization. I will stay for nine days and then to Beijing ready for business! Our race is the 18th so I will be near our race venue until after the event and then will go to the athletes village to experience the Gamesan amazing reward for all the hard work.

I am trying to stay focused on training and the race but am very, very excited to watch some of the other Canadians in their events. Once my race is finished I will be a fanatic spectator and hope to see as much as possible. For now its still head down and focused on maximizing each day so I am as prepared as I can possibly be. The Tour de France is very close to where I am so the energy is helping us all stay motivated. We are also surrounded by many world class athletes; Darren has definitely found a great spot for us to train.

Best three 2008 results: Richards Bay world cup 1st, New Plymouth world cup 15th, Vancouver world championships 24th.

Look for: Murray to build off her world cup win and storm into Beijing riding high on her good form. Top-eight contender.


Ricarda Lisk (Germany), like Murray, is hitting form right on schedule. She took out her home country world cup in Hamburg only two weeks ago which must act as an enormous confidence boost for the Olympics.

Diary quote: Its amazing! It finally worked out for the first time in my career to be on the podium at a triathlon world cup. And not only on the podium, but in first place! I concentrated on the second transition and I was the first on the running course. There I could surprisingly keep pace with Vanessa Fernandes.

On the second lap I even left her behind me. (But, as I later heard, she had had some health problems.) For me, everything went perfectly. I could keep the gap on Felicity Abram [Australia] and Debbie Tanner [New Zealand] and on the last lap I could even make it a little bit bigger. The moments on the finish line were one of the most beautiful in my career, and now I plan to have more moments like that in future.

Best three 2008 results: Hamburg world cup 1st, Richards Bay world cup 5th, Tongyeong world cup 11th.

Look for: the strong swimmer Lisk to race at the head of the field all day and if her run is on then she might experience a moment to rival her Hamburg rush-a high finish at the Olympic Games. Top-five contender.


Jessica Harrison (France) started triathlon as an 11-year-old and originally raced for Great Britain but changed citizenship to increase her chances of racing at an Olympic Games. With this type of resilient attitude, Harrison was always going to do whatever it took and now she is an Olympian, competing for France.

Diary quote: Since yesterday morning, I am an officially selected Olympic athlete. It feels good to finally say, Yes, Im going to the Games. Its always a relief to finish a period of work (the selection) and really go to the next step. Now there are two months to refine the work done this winter and produce a performance in the Games.

Since the selection race in Madrid I made several clinical tests for asthma and in agreement with the federal doctor I now have a treatment best suited to my symptoms. So I hope not to relive the same bout in Spain and especially not in Beijing with the very humid conditions.  So for the next two months I will be a hermit, with one idea in mind - the Games.

Best three 2008 results: Hamburg world cup 6th, Lisbon world cup 9th, Ishigaki world cup 11th.

Look for: Harrison to improve on her 19th place at the Vancouver world championships in June. A top-12 contender.


Hollie Avil (Great Britain), at best, should have been a contender for the London 2012 Olympics in her home country but she refused to follow this script by placing fourth at the British Olympic trials in Madrid. Coached by former professional Ben Bright, Avils age (she’s 18) and lack of big race experience will be smoothed into a lethal package for Beijing. 

Diary quote: Today I was officially announced alongside Tim Don, Will Clarke, Alistair Brownlee and Helen Tucker as a member of Team GB for the 2008 Olympic Games! I can’t describe my excitement or the size of the big cheesy grin that has been on my face all day! So plans from now to the Games. I head out to France a week today to race in Beauvais French Grand Prix, sprint distance. From France I head straight to Spain for a heat camp along with a few of the other Olympic guys. Im then back home for a few days spending some time in Loughborough and training in the pool with my club back in Northampton.

Wales is my next stop for the British National Olympic Distance Champs. One night back home and then it’s off to Korea for our pre-Olympic camp. We’ve chosen to prepare in Jeju. Tim and I were there back in April so we already have an idea of what the island is like and know what to expect when we arrive. I don’t think we’ll be going back to the Slice Raw Seafood Restaurant in a hurry. Well fly into Beijing into the Athletes Village on the 14th August, the day I get my A level results and four days before the Womens Triathlon (Monday 18th).

Best three 2008 results: Tongyeong world cup 2nd, Ishigaki world cup 3rd, Madrid world cup 4th.

Look for: Avil to leave nothing in the tank in August. This 2007 junior world champion has made the jump into the seniors look effortless. A top-five contender.

Check back soon as Hill breaks down the Beijing fields

Click here for the Olympic Odyssey archive and more Beijing news

Former World Number one Chris Hill brings his unique elite athlete perspective in weekly Olympic columns to ITUs website, triathlon.org.  He competed on the ITU World Cup circuit, winning three titles and ten medals in total.  He was crowned the overall World Cup series champion in 2001.  That same year he was silver medalist at the ITU World Championships in Edmonton, Canada.  Watch for Chris Hills column, Olympic Odyssey every week on triathlon.org.

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