HADLEIGH FARM, United Kingdom (AFP) — German mountain bike star Sabine Spitz said competing at the Rio Games in 2016 will be a step too far as she completed her Olympic medals collection Saturday.
At 40 years and 228 days old, Spitz started the defense of her Olympic cross country title from Beijing hoping to upstage a host of women nearly half her age.
In the end she took the silver behind 23-year-old Frenchwoman Jule Bresset, who with Spitz and American Georgia Gould had been among the early pacesetters.
Having also won bronze in Athens, Spitz was beaming at the finish line as she became the oldest medal winner in an individual cycling event since Jeannie Longo won bronze in the Sydney 2000 time trial at the age of 41.
But she said going to Rio at the age of 44 was unlikely.
“So when I’m 44, I guess, and I have my collection will there be another color? I don’t think so. Maybe as a coach, or maybe as a pensioner, I don’t know,” said the German.
“It’s amazing. Now I have my Olympic collection, the three different medals. It’s perfect.”
Asked what kept her Olympic dream alive, Spitz replied: “I’m really focused. I’ve always focused on the big events. I don’t feel I always have to compete in all the World Cup races.
“In all Olympic years I quit the overseas World Cups to have good preparation for the Olympics.”
After a fast start to the six-lap race Bresset began to edge ahead of a small lead group on the fourth lap, where disaster struck for Spitz.
She came off her bike on a rocky downhill section, delaying herself and Gould and allowing Bresset to open up a lead that would never come under threat.
“Georgia overtook me but I managed to stay on her wheel. By that time, Julie was 33 seconds in the lead and the gap just got bigger and bigger,” said Spitz, who finished 1:02 behind Bresset with Gould seven seconds further back.
Fellow veteran Gunn-Rita Dahle-Flesja of Norway, meanwhile, had the “worst start you could ever imagine” after crashing on the first rocky section.
Despite later abandoning, the 37-year-old Olympic champion from the 2004 Athens Games — who has competed at every Olympic mountain bike race since its debut in 1996 — is already taking aim at Rio.
She said: “I hope so, I love my job, so yes.”