• Sun July 27 2008
  • Posted Jul 27, 2008
BRYCE MILLER In 2004, Iowa native Christine Thorburn was positioned to win a bronze medal in the women’s cycling time trial during the Athens Olympics until she was bumped to fourth — by the final rider. At the time, the Pleasant Valley High School graduate who attended Grinnell College said the painful setback made her wish she had finished farther from the medal stand. Time, perspective and another trip to the Olympics, though, have mended mental wounds. Thorburn was selected this week for the U.S. women’s cycling road team competing in Beijing, China, next month. “It’s definitely been motiving, trying to come back and get a medal,” Thorburn said today in a telephone interview from Bend, Ore., where she was competing. “I could be philosophical about it like, ‘Why does it matter?’ But like it or not, getting on the podium is meaningful.” The U.S. women’s team was completed Thursday with the additions of Thorburn and Amber Neben in road cycling and Mary McConneloug in mountain biking. Much has changed for Thorburn, 38, since her last Olympics. Thornburn, 38, operates a practice as a doctor in rheumatology — “an arthritis doctor,” she says — at California’s Palo Alto Medical Clinic. She also became married to Ted Huang, whose mother grew up in Shanghai, China, and father lived in Taiwan. The parents-in-law already have been quizzed about life in the part of the world where Thorburn will chase an Olympic medal. “Basically, they grew up in war-torn China in the (19)30s and (19)40s,” she said. The trip to Athens four years ago included added stress that Thorburn will not face this time. In 2004, former U.S. rider Kristin Armstrong planned to appeal to an arbitrator when she was not picked for the time trial Thorburn competed in. Armstrong eventually dropped the protest, but U.S. coach Jim Miller then called it a “really, really stressful time for everyone.” And Thorburn was caught squarely in the middle. “Honestly, it was incredibly stressful for me in the (Olympic) Village” because of the controversy, Thorburn said. “I didn’t go to Opening Ceremonies or anything.” Years have polished Thorburn’s talents and taken the edge off of self-imposed expectations or any other stress. “This time, I think I’ll be able to appreciate being there more,” she said. “I think you can still compete at a very high level, but also smell the roses so to speak.” Thorburn also is excited to spend time with another Olympic cyclist from her home state. Coralville’s Jason McCartney was picked for his second U.S. Olympic team last week. “Jason’s a great guy,” she said. “It will be fun catching up with him.”

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