Leontien Zijlaard-van Moorsel
Athens, 18 August 2004, Games of the XXVIII Olympiad. Women's cycling: Leontien ZIJLAARD-VAN MOORSEL of Netherlands competes during the road race time trial event at the Vouliagmeni Olympic Centre.
VAN MOORSEL, Leontien
Born: 22 March 1970
Birthplace: Boekel (Netherlands)
ATTENDANCE AT THE OLYMPIC GAMES
Queen of the Road and Track
Leontien van Moorsel was a world champion cyclist both on the road and on the track before she competed in her first Olympics in 1992. She placed eighth in the individual pursuit and 23rd in the road race. Van Moorsel won the 1993 road race world championship, but then missed the next three seasons, including the Atlanta Olympics, while she dealt with anorexia and bulimia, as her weight fluctuated between 43 and 86kg. She married her coach, Michael Zijlaard, conquered her eating disorders and returned to international competition. At the 2000 Sydney Games, she broke the world record in the semifinals of the pursuit and then won the final with ease. She added a silver medal in the points race, moving up from fifth place in the final sprint. Then Zijlaard-van Moorsel switched to the road. With help from Dutch teammates Chantal Beltman and Mirjam Melchers, she won the gold medal in the road race. Four days later, she won the road time trial by 37 seconds. By the time of the 2004 Olympics, Zijlaard-van Moorsel was 34 years old. She wanted to retire on a high note, but it looked like her efforts would be thwarted when she crashed in the road race, coming away with bruises to her neck, hip and shoulder. There was speculation that she would have to withdraw from the time trial three days later. Instead, she not only appeared at the starting line, she won the race by 24.09 seconds, earning her fourth career gold medal. Zijlaard-van Moorsel closed out her Olympic career by adding a bronze medal in the pursuit.