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World Track Championships - CM
Melbourne, Australia, May 26-30, 2004
Tales from the track
News and gossip from day 2 of the Melbourne World Track Championships
By Karen Forman in Melbourne
Secret women's business challenges Van Moorsel
It's not the kind of thing that people (especially males) talk out loud about - but female athletes of all disciplines certainly know that having - or not having - a menstrual period when it's time for an important event can make or break you.
In the case of Dutch rider Leontien Zijlaard Van Moorsel, not getting her period on the day it should have arrived (today) may have actually meant the difference between keeping and losing her world individual pursuit record, which she set at the Sydney Olympic Games in 2000.
While the 34 year old, who plans to retire from cycling "to make lots of babies - probably five" in no way blamed her period (of lack of it) for her inability to ride faster than record breaker New Zealander Sarah Ulmer in Melbourne today, she conceded that it certainly did make a difference to how she felt on the day.
"I felt good but not really good," she told Cyclingnews. "The record was standing four years and you have to accept that sooner or later, somebody will break it. But I usually feel bad, without strength, in the days before my period and then very strong and good on the day it comes. Today it was supposed to come and it didn't - maybe because of nerves - so I didn't feel as good as I might have."
The same thing occurred last year and also looks like happening during the Athens Olympics - much to her fear. But at times, like many other women athletes, she has been able to use it to her advantage. Like last October, when she broke her world hour record - on the first day of her menstrual cycle.
With the first round of the women's individual pursuit on Friday morning, Van Moorsel is obviously hoping her period turns up by then. If so, she might just be able to take that world record back again.
But she doesn't think so. Not yet, anyhow. "I have only done six races this season," she explained. "We have had the winter and could only train inside, where the Australians and New Zealanders have had the summer and a lot of races. Now the season is starting in Holland we will be able to race three times a week. I know I need a bit more competition before the Olympics."
Van Moorsel said she had also been training a lot in the mountains for the Tour of Flanders, which she had needed to do to qualify for the Olympic road race - but which was not conducive to training for the track pursuit.
"Now I have to find the balance," she said. "But today I am happy because I have qualified for the Olympics with my time. At the Olympics my goal will be to break Sarah's record and then that will be my last race before I retire."
After cycling she plans to "make a lot of children, I hope" and also work to support young cyclists - "only girls, not boys".
With new dreams to look forward to, a missed period shouldn't be a real concern then? "Well yes, I need it to come on the day I need to perform well," she said with a smile. "Tomorrow I hope."
More Day 2 News from the Melbourne World Track Championships
By Karen Forman in Melbourne