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Paola Pezzo

Updated:2008-07-09 09:24 |

Atlanta, 30 July 1996. Women's mountain biking, Paola Pezzo (ITA), 1st. Credit: Getty Images/Mike Powell
Atlanta, 30 July 1996. Women's mountain biking, 
Paola Pezzo (ITA), 1st. 
Credit: Getty Images/Mike Powell

Born: 8 January 1969

Birthplace: Bosco Chiesanuova (Italy)

Nationality: Italy

Sport: Cycling


Atlanta 1996

Sydney 2000

Athens 2004


Olympic medals:

Gold: 2

Mountain Biking Pioneer

The decision to add mountain biking to the Olympic programme was taken in 1993, less than twenty years after it was created as a sport and only six years after the staging of the first world championships.

Paola Pezzo won her first world championship in 1993 and was one of the favourites for the inaugural Olympic mountain biking contest in 1996. Early in the race, Pezzo fell in a hairpin turn and scraped her knees. She remounted quickly and gradually caught up with the leaders. Shortly after the 11-kilometre mark in the 31.9km race, during an uphill stretch, she powered into the lead so fast that the other racers knew they were in trouble. Sure enough, Pezzo kept pulling away until her lead reached 1 minute 42 seconds, and she won by 1 minute 7 seconds.

At the 2000 Sydney Olympics, Barbara Blatter of Switzerland led after the first of five laps, Russia's Alla Epifanova after the second and two-time defending world champion Margarita Fullana of Spain after the third. The critical moment of the race came late in the fourth lap.

Pezzo passed Blatter to move into second place. Then she pulled alongside Fullana. On a downhill section, Pezzo and Fullana collided. Fullana went down. Pezzo came out of her pedals, but stayed upright, moved into the lead and drove to the finish line, never to be caught. Pezzo returned to the Olympics in 2004, but did not finish the race.

(Credit: IOC. Click here for further information.)

Editor : LiuAnqi

Opening ceremony of Beijing Olympics