French cyclist competes at her seventh Olympics

It passed almost forgotten. One of the great Olympians and international competitors, Jeannie Longo of France, finished 24th in the women's road race.

She finished four places ahead of New Zealand's Jo Kiesanowski who was well in the hunt until the last third of the race. No big deal, you might think - except Jeannie Longo will be 50 in October and no-one has dared to ask her if this, her seventh Olympics, will be her last.



Almost certainly not. Longo is a very different character, you see.



Let's get the sporting achievements out of the way first: In road cycling, nine world championship gold medals, three silver and two bronze. In the Olympics - one gold (in the road race, in 1996), two silvers and a bronze.



In track cycling, four world championship golds (most in Sarah Ulmer's event, the 3000m individual pursuit), three silvers and three bronze.



In mountain - yup, that's right, this woman so dominated cycling she was even world-class in this crossover event, one world championship silver medal at her one and only go at it, in 1993.



That is a quite astonishing CV. Twenty-nine world championship or Olympic medals over a 27-year career.



And it hasn't finished yet. Even more remarkable is the fact that Longo is here at all. She attributes her longevity to her organic lifestyle. Allergies to chemicals and additives have seen her pursue a relentlessly puritanical approach to life.



She chose her house in the French alps, because of the clean air, she keeps goats, keeps a garden and bikes off every day to get fresh organic milk from the local organic farm. She travels with her own organic carrots, filters her water and has a de-ioniser.



It is this lifestyle that has powered her remarkable career, she says.



She is also a considerable personality. She doesn't take prisoners. You are either with Longo or against her and the scrapes she has had with French cycling authorities over the years are countless. She has outspoken political views - she doesn't think China should have been awarded the Games and she is pro-Tibet - and has been known to shun other places on the grounds they are not healthy.



So why is she in Beijing? Because she can - that's all. Nearly 50 years old and still competing credibly in a sport which requires huge fitness and stamina - the women's road race was 126km done at a fierce clip (three and a half hours) -- Longo is still a force to be reckoned with.



So she will now finally retire this year, won't she? Longo routinely retires after every Olympics only to emerge again and take on another one.



"I am not a liar," she said this week. "But every time the urge comes back and I resume training and I feel fine. London could be fun and it's not far from home."



Jeannie Longo, aged 53, Olympic road race cyclist? Don't bet against it.

This story was sourced from The New Zealand Herald

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Day In a Page

Where the spooks get their coffee fix: The busiest Starbucks in the US is also the most secretive

The secret CIA Starbucks

The coffee shop is deep inside the agency's forested Virginia compound
Revealed: How the Establishment closed ranks over fallout from Loch Ness Monster 'sighting'

How the Establishment closed ranks over fallout from Nessie 'sighting'

The Natural History Museum's chief scientist was dismissed for declaring he had found the monster
One million Britons using food banks, according to Trussell Trust

One million Britons using food banks

Huge surge in number of families dependent on emergency food aid
Excavation at Italian cafe to fix rising damp unearths 2,500 years of history in 3,000 amazing objects

2,500 years of history in 3,000 amazing objects

Excavation at Italian cafe to fix rising damp unearths trove
The Hubble Space Telescope's amazing journey, 25 years on

The Hubble Space Telescope's amazing journey 25 years on

The space telescope was seen as a costly flop on its first release
Did Conservative peer Lord Ashcroft quit the House of Lords to become a non-dom?

Did Lord Ashcroft quit the House of Lords to become a non-dom?

A document seen by The Independent shows that a week after he resigned from the Lords he sold 350,000 shares in an American company - netting him $11.2m
Apple's ethnic emojis are being used to make racist comments on social media

Ethnic emojis used in racist comments

They were intended to promote harmony, but have achieved the opposite
Sir Kenneth Branagh interview: 'My bones are in the theatre'

Sir Kenneth Branagh: 'My bones are in the theatre'

The actor-turned-director’s new company will stage five plays from October – including works by Shakespeare and John Osborne
The sloth is now the face (and furry body) of three big advertising campaigns

The sloth is the face of three ad campaigns

Priya Elan discovers why slow and sleepy wins the race for brands in need of a new image
How to run a restaurant: As two newbies discovered, there's more to it than good food

How to run a restaurant

As two newbies discovered, there's more to it than good food
Record Store Day: Remembering an era when buying and selling discs were labours of love

Record Store Day: The vinyl countdown

For Lois Pryce, working in a record shop was a dream job - until the bean counters ruined it
Usher, Mary J Blige and Will.i.am to give free concert as part of the Global Poverty Project

Mary J Blige and Will.i.am to give free concert

The concert in Washington is part of the Global Citizen project, which aims to encourage young people to donate to charity
10 best tote bags

Accessorise with a stylish shopper this spring: 10 best tote bags

We find carriers with room for all your essentials (and a bit more)
Paul Scholes column: I hear Manchester City are closing on Pep Guardiola for next summer – but I'd also love to see Jürgen Klopp managing in England

Paul Scholes column

I hear Manchester City are closing on Pep Guardiola for next summer – but I'd also love to see Jürgen Klopp managing in England
Jessica Ennis-Hill: 'I just want to give it my best shot'

Jessica Ennis-Hill: 'I just want to give it my best shot'

The heptathlete has gone from the toast of the nation to being a sleep-deprived mum - but she’s ready to compete again. She just doesn't know how well she'll do...