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ATLANTA 1996 OLYMPICS

They're 'Blown Away' as Twigg Hits Road

Cycling: She forgoes final event and goes home, apparently because of conflict with coach.

August 01, 1996|ROBYN NORWOOD | TIMES STAFF WRITER

ATLANTA — Cyclist Rebecca Twigg, a three-time Olympian and two-time medalist who had one event remaining in what might have been her final Olympics, has left the U.S. team and gone home, apparently because of a conflict with U.S. Coach Chris Carmichael.

"Everybody here at cycling is blown away," said Linda Brenneman, who would have competed alongside Twigg in the individual time trial Saturday. "The reaction we're getting from everybody is, 'I can't believe she did that, regardless of the reasons.' She's never won a gold. She had a chance and she threw it away."

Twigg, 33, won a silver medal in the road race at the 1984 Los Angeles Games and a bronze in the individual pursuit in Barcelona. She was considered a potential double gold medalist here but was upset in the quarterfinals of the individual pursuit competition last Friday.

Carmichael said she will be replaced by Jeanne Golay in the individual time trial Saturday, pending approval of the IOC and cycling's international federation.

Twigg left Atlanta late Monday or early Tuesday, upset with Carmichael for not issuing a credential to her personal coach, Eddie Borysewicz, as well as for questioning her preparation and training for the Olympics after she lost.

Twigg also was displeased with USA Cycling's high-tech SuperBike, ditching it after her first race for her own bicycle.

"She left because people were not treating her right," Borysewicz said by phone from his home in Ramona, Calif. "From what I understand, there was a problem between her and the coach, Mr. Carmichael. She had a bad feeling about him. He never did what she asked.

"After this fiasco on the track, she was very disappointed. She said she was ready to forget everything. Her impression was Mr. Carmichael was happy she lost."

Twigg did not return a phone call to her home in Colorado Springs.

"I have not spoken with her," Carmichael said. "It's a situation where everybody fits into the same parameters. Only a certain number of people can be credentialed by the USOC and [the Atlanta Committee for the Olympic Games]. All athletes like to have someone they have a personal relationship with, someone to support them. But everyone understands that's not possible."

After Twigg was eliminated Friday, Carmichael said he couldn't fathom how she could have begun training in April for a race in July. He acknowledged he was ultimately responsible for the team's preparation, but added, "You can't force riders to do things they don't want to."

Twigg has generally enjoyed a good reputation in cycling circles, though she is considered something of an introvert who prefers to train on her own.

"They've got to come up with some excuses," she said Friday in response to Carmichael's comments, referring to the U.S. team's disappointing showing despite the multimillion-dollar program that produced the SuperBike.

"I was worried about the bike," she said. "If Eddie B. had been there, I wouldn't have had to worry about any of that. That's what he takes care of."

Borysewicz called Twigg "delicate" but criticized Carmichael, saying "I don't think he's the right guy" for the job.

"She's intelligent. She needs attention," he said. "I work with her 14 years, and never a problem."

Borysewicz said he doesn't know if Twigg's departure will mark the end of a career in which she has won six world titles, setting a world record in the individual pursuit in the 1995 world championships less than two weeks after breaking her collarbone.

Twigg suffered the injury while training on the velodrome at Colorado Springs when she ran into U.S. endurance coach Craig Griffin, who was on the track drilling another cyclist even though Twigg thought she was working out alone.

"It's hard to say. Right now she is really upset," Borysewicz said. "For her, this Olympics meant a lot. Last year, she broke her collarbone and then set a world record. She's tough. She didn't quit because she's not tough."

The Associated Press contributed to this story.

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