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SYDNEY 2000 / SUMMER OLYMPIC GAMES

Holden Wins Silver in Cycling Time Trial

September 30, 2000|LISA DILLMAN

SYDNEY, Australia — There was the time she stopped before the finish line in San Sebastian, Spain, and dropped several places because of the inadvertent mistake.

Then there was the meandering moped driver--perhaps fueled by too much red wine?--who took her out at the 1997 Tour de l'Aude in France during the final stage. Before, during and after, there were too many crashes and crying sessions.

Bad luck didn't follow cyclist Mari Holden. It was right there with her, riding shotgun.

This morning, Holden left the dark cloud behind and nearly everyone else in the women's individual time trial at the Olympics. Only one rider was better than Holden--Leontien Zijlaard of the Netherlands, who won her third gold medal of the Games.

Holden, 29, who is from Ventura and lives in Colorado Springs, Colo., finished the 18-mile course in 42 minutes 37 seconds, 37 seconds behind Zijlaard and 15 ahead of her idol, bronze medalist Jeannie Longo-Ciprelli of France.

"I always looked up to her," said Holden, who went to Ojai Valley High. "Every time I came in second to her, I kept saying, 'One of these days, maybe I'll beat Jeannie.'

"It's always been a goal of mine. I can't believe it came together for me here in the Olympics. I couldn't get excited until it was over because I didn't know what would happen. It kind of blows me away."

Her coach and boyfriend, Dean Golich, has witnessed the many years of frustration and disappointment, including the devastating decision to leave her off the 1996 Olympic team. Although she won qualifying events in road time trials, Holden was left home because she was not considered a good road racer.

Four days ago, she had more trouble in the road race here--a crash, a flat tire, other mechanical problems and a bike change. The typical bad luck, once again.

"This is incredible," Golich said. "I keep seeing the silver medal and I don't believe it. She has so much bad luck and adversity."

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