August 23, 2016 - 3:21 PM
KAMLOOPS - Olympic bronze medallist Catharine Pendrel received a hero's welcome on her return to Kamloops today.
Pendrel, 35, placed third in the woman's mountain bike race at the Rio Olympics on the weekend, arrived at the Kamloops Airport this afternoon, Aug. 23, to a crowd of about 70 fans, friends and media. Before she even got inside the airport fellow passengers and airline staff took photos with the athlete and her bronze medal.
“Travelling for racing and competing is so much a part of my life that it’s usually a simple come home and get in the car and go,” she says. “It’s definitely pretty neat to have this kind of reception.”
Pendrel dealt with a crash on the first turn in the race and a mechanical issue that forced her to do half a lap of the 4.85-kilometre course with just one gear, en route to her third-place finish.
PacificSport Interior B.C. executive director Carolynn Boomer, who is port of the support group for athletes like Pendrel, was on hand to welcome the Olympian.
“It’s absolutely amazing. I watched her race,” she says. “It is so, so hard to not only get on the podium, but to come back from a crash.”
Mayor Peter Milobar was the first to welcome Pendrel with a large bouquet while cheering fans chanted her name as she walked through the arrivals door.
“I think it’s a huge feather in the cap to be known as Canada’s tournament capital and have an Olympic medalist come out of here,” he says. “It sends a message to the outside world, as well as youth in our community, that you can strive and achieve very high levels even if your from a town the size of Kamloops.”
Pendrel isn’t sure if she'll compete in the next summer Olympics four years from now, but intends to continue competing in the short term. She has a qucik break at home before preparing to go to Europe on Tuesday for a race. She’s currently second in mountain biking’s world cup.
For her younger fans, she says an Olympic dream should be fun, but takes a lot of effort.
“I wasn’t an athlete in high school, so a lot can change in a short amount of time if you’re willing to work for it,” she says.
— With files from The Canadian Press
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