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One Gear, No Breaks: Lori-Ann Muenzer's Ride to Belief, Belonging, and a Gold Medal    by Lori-Ann Muenzer & Karl Wilberg Amazon.com order for
One Gear, No Breaks
by Lori-Ann Muenzer
Order:  USA  Can
Key Porter, 2007 (2006)
Hardcover, Softcover

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* * *   Reviewed by Sally Selvadurai

Lori-Ann Muenzer's quest for gold culminated in her 200 meter sprint victory at the 2004 Athens Olympic Games. Lori-Ann's story is epic. At thirty-eight years old she was racing against cyclists much younger than herself but perhaps she had the advantage of disappointments, injuries, lack of focus, which actually helped her overcome her own demons to finish on top of the podium at the one sporting event that is beloved, and remembered, by many people world-wide.

Karl Wilberg has done an amazing job in getting Lori-Ann's story out for all to see. She epitomizes an athlete whose dreams are bigger than their pocketbooks, whose country, although reaping the accolades of her success, did very little to help her achieve her goals, and who was willing to put her own social and family life on hold for the seventeen years she was in training. For the average person this is just too mind-blowing to comprehend, but reading Lori-Ann's story I think the most poignant fact was the lack of support and encouragement that she received from the Canadian Cycling Association (CCA) and the Canadian Olympic Association, who were not even able to come up with the funds for her coach to attend Athens or some of her earlier World Cup and World championship events: 'After so many years of competition, nothing has changed. My competitors are well-supported. Their coaches are present with a smile, a gesture, a joke ... But Steen (Steen Madsen, Lori-Ann's coach) is thousands of miles away.'

The story that Lori-Ann narrates could, I'm sure, be a mirror to the stories of so many other athletes; they are driven to succeed, through countless personal and psychological barriers. As Lori-Ann says, 'I have lost touch with my family, and I've lost track of the friends who have gone on to careers, serious relationships, and children. In the meantime I kept riding. Riding the track, and riding in circles. What has this cost me? Plenty. The fear that I've made a terrible mistake, that the sacrifice has been in vain, nearly sends me to the ground.'

This book was a gripping read, an inspirational volume that brought to mind other Canadian Olympians, Silken Laumann being an obvious example, who have battled for their place on the Olympic Podium. Thanks for your story, Lori-Ann. Keep spreading the word that Canada needs to fund its athletes to get the results that the public wants and if the Government does not come forth, the private sector and the public will certainly have to step in.

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