Saturday, January 7, 2012

Judith Arndt: Success is her middle name

Judith Arndt finally won the career double in 2011, as she finally added the World Time-Trial championship to her 2004 Road Race title.

Arndt had a slightly lacklustre year, by her standards, but was part of the German dominance in Copenhagen. Nearly ten years older than her male counterpart, Tony Martin, Arndt has a palmarès that even Philippe Gilbert would be jealous of.

Early Beginnings
Born in Königs Wusterhausen, Germany on July 23rd 1976, Arndt enjoyed success from an early age. Despite recent recognition on the road, she found her early success on the track, with a few junior titles. At 17 she won her first junior title, in the individual pursuit, which would become a prerequisite to her time-trialling prowess. She started as she meant to go on and retained the title the following year, at the German championships. Arndt also managed a silver medal, in the individual pursuit, at the junio world championship.

Arndt slowly began moving in to senior competition in 1995, but it was the following year that really announced her presence in Cycling. She stepped up to the senior ranks with one fell swoop, by taking the national pursuit championship and gold in the points race also. Clearly impressed by the young German’s early progress, the national team picked her to compete in the 1996 Atlanta Olympics. Not content with success on the track Arndt got the only colour she was missing, by claiming the silver medal, in the German National Road Racing Championships.

Onwards and Upwards
Her success curve continued to go steadily upwards and, at the age of 21, she added the World Individual Pursuit championship to hear medal tally, while retaining the national title also. Arndt also claimed bronze in both World Road disciplines. A couple of years later and Arndt couldn’t manage to repeat her previous Olympic success. The German powerhouse struggled to medal in any of her events and only came close, with fourth, in the points race. The poor results were put down to a viral infection she contracted before the event.

Despite the disappointment, this saw a big turn in her career and she claimed some of the biggest road victories in her career. In 2001 she took to the podium, in third place, at the Grande Boucle Féminine, and followed that up with her first stage victory in the race, in 2002.

Courting Controversy
2004 was one of Arndt’s most successful and most controversial. After missing out on a medal in the previous Olympics, Arndt wanted to make Athens a success. However, there was one problem; the German selectors had chosen to leave her long-term girlfriend and sprinter Petra Rossner out of the team, due to the high amount of talent in the team. Arndt eventually finished in the silver position, in the road race, but decided to show her frustration on the finish line. She gave the selectors the middle finger, but was forced to apologise for the incident.

Rossner and Arndt had been dating since they were juniors and announced their intention to adopt, in 2006. Later in 2004 she claimed the world road race title, to go with her UCI Road Points Championship. By 2005 Arndt had become one of the most successful German cyclists, with four national time-trial championships to her name, five pursuit titles and two world titles to her name on the track and road.

A Lean Year
2011 saw Arndt’s long career in the balance, when HTC announced their departure from the world of cycling. However it was then saved by the arrival of GreenEdge to the scene, with her formidable reputation helping her get a position in the team. With 2012 being an Olympic year Arndt will be looking to have a much better run up to the games. If she is chosen to compete for the German team, it will be her fifth and most likely her last.

Arndt is likely to go down in history as one of the most successful female cyclists on track and road.

1 comment:

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