Britain has its own multi-sport Olympic medallist in the form of rower/cyclist Rebecca Romero, but she can’t yet compete with the medal haul of Canadian speed skater/cyclist Clara Hughes.
The 38-year-old has an Olympic medal haul comprising a pair of bronzes from the 1996 Atlanta Games road race and time trial events, together with two more bronzes, a silver and a gold from speed skating events at three winter Olympic Games.
But having retired from cycling in 2003, Hughes is hoping to add to that haul by returning to the sport for the 2012 London Games.
“It’s a very exciting thing because I get to try to do this better and try to do this in a unique way, in my own way and to put 20 years of experience into this,” Hughes told the Toronto Star. “But to still go into it, feeling I can learn and grow and improve. I am nowhere near my limit. I just want to see if there are such things as limits. I want to go and find out.”
Hughes may have options to compete in both the road race and track competitions, notably in the team pursuit, alongside double world champion, Tara Whitten. If she does take part in the latter, she could conceivably compete against Romero who is also targetting the event.
In the twilight of her career Hughes told the Star that she knew when the time had come to hang up her skates and likewise will recognise when the time is right to retire from elite competitive cycling.
"I've always gone by my gut, and I knew when I skated my last stride across that line and looked up at the clock and had the satisfaction of finishing the race of my life the way I always dreamed of skating in Vancouver, I knew that was it, that I would never skate another stride in competition,” she said.
“And I dream of having that race on the bike when I roll across the line, and I look at the clock, and I think back to what the race was and I think, 'That's it. That was it. I'm done."