BY SCOTT HUNTER HADDOW
When Eric Wohlberg was named to the Canadian National Cycling Team to compete at the World Cycling Championships in Hamilton, he knew his mind was ready for the race. He didn?t know if his arm was going to be up for the challenge.
While training in California in late June, Wohlberg, who was raised in Levack, was struck by a car. He was thrown from his bike and fractured his wrist in two places.
Team officials saw past the bothersome injury and looked at Wohlberg?s impressive career resume.
It shows a man who had competed for Canada at the Summer Olympic Games, captured numerous medals at world-class events and accumulated multiple wins in races all over the world.
Add to his record of success an unmatched work ethic, and above all, a great sense of national pride, and you have
one of the greatest long-distance cyclists this country has ever produced.
When Wohlberg said yes to the team, injury or not, he wouldn?t break his word, especially to Canada.
?I was taken out by a car, but I have to keep going despite the injuries because this is what I do. This is my job and this is how I live,? said Wohlberg, in a telephone interview from California. ?I?ve made commitments to race and I will not break my word.?
The injury continues to linger, but Wohlberg is overcoming the impediment.
?It?s healing slowly, but it?s going in the right direction,? said Wohlberg, who will compete at the world
championships on Oct. 11-12.
?These kind of bones don?t heal at the best of times, especially when I?ve been driving myself pretty hard to stay fit.?
Wohlberg promises the injury will not effect his performance at the world championships.
?It feels okay and I have good form now, but I?ll probably have to ride with a cast on,? said Wohlberg. ?The cast impedes me a bit, but I?ve had it on for so long now, I?ve adapted to it.?
Wohlberg is used to national acclaim, but representing Canada is always special.
?I am always honoured to be named to a national team. Regardless of the sport, it?s one of the greatest achievements that you can hope for as a Canadian athlete,? said Wohlberg. ?These teams are difficult to make and it means you are viewed as one of the best in your country.?
Wohlberg?s goal heading to the world event is to crack the top 20 at the time trial event. Last year, Wohlberg placed 19th in time trials.
?It?s a tough course with a lot of climbs,? said Wohlberg. ?I am really hoping to improve on last year?s finish, but it will be difficult.?
The 38-year-old is also looking forward to the road race event and knows what he brings to the team.
?I am solid across the board with great overall power, aggressiveness and the fact I can push myself hard,? said Wohlberg.
Wohlberg is hoping a strong performance at the world championships coupled with solid showings at other upcoming prestigious events will propel him onto the National Olympic team in 2004.
?I still want to represent Canada at the Olympics next year and I am hoping a good ride at the World Championships and continued strong performances will play into my favour when it comes down to the final selection for the Olympic squad.?
Wohlberg says he hasn?t become wealthy from of his sport, but insists competing in the sport he loves on an almost daily basis for the past 15 years has been like living a dream.
?I have always had a life-long dream of being a full-time athlete and cycling has been that vehicle for me,? said
Wohlberg. ?I have no desire to quit.?
Canada?s National coach, Yuri Kashirin had no problem selecting Wohlberg to the team.
?Eric has a good record and always puts forth a great effort,? said Kashirin. ?Eric brings tremendous spirit,
commitment and a great work ethic to the team.?