By Sue George
Jose Antonio Hermida won a silver medal at the Olympic Games in Athens, Greece four years ago. Now he's got his eyes on a gold medal in Beijing, China. As an enduring and consistent Spanish cross country mountain bike racer, he will be counting on experience and hoping for a little good luck at his third Olympic Games.
Hermida (Multivan Merida) isn't new to the Olympic Games. In fact, with this year's event in Beijing, China being his third appearance, Hermida's Olympic career has outlasted that of many others. While the Beijing test will feature some new faces, Hermida is depending on experience for his gold medal ambitions.
"Probably the younger riders will be more explosive and more competitive than me, but I have a card to play - experience, and that is also important," said Hermida, who will celebrate his 30th birthday one day after the Olympic cross country race. "I'll be arriving at the Olympics at a good age.
"I have experienced two past Olympics, and I'm at the age when most of us guys are at the top of our careers," added Hermida, who finished fourth at his first Olympics in Sydney, Australia in 2000. "This experience card is one that I have to play."
Hermida hasn't won any World Cups so far in 2008, but he's been steadily building his form going toward the Olympic Games. At the World Cup in Madrid, Hermida came close to a win with a second place, just 12 seconds behind French National Champion Julien Absalon (Orbea).
In Mont-Sainte-Anne in late July, Hermida was riding in third before the "crash of his life" sent him and his bike flying. After landing on his head and losing his seat, along with over a dozen places, Hermida worked his way back up to 11th. At the Bromont World Cup last weekend, he finished fifth, earning a spot on the podium after a blazing fast start.
"It is not a secret that I want to win," he said. "Most people put me on the favourites list based on my past results in the Olympics. Now it is the time to fight for the gold, but of course, it is the Olympics and racing is racing, so you never know. You can make everything perfect, but your result still depends on luck."
Hermida lives in Puigcerdà, Spain, with his wife and two year-old son, whom he is teaching to ride when he's not away travelling. His home is in the mountains of the Pyrenees, only 500 meters from the border in Spain, and he does most of his training in France.
With two Olympic appearances under his belt, Hermida's approach will be a little different this time around. "In my last two Olympics, I had a lot of fun," he said. "I was there for racing and tried to do my best, but I also had fun enjoying the Olympic experience. I was lucky. There are many riders that go to the Olympics and see nothing and have no time to enjoy the ambiance.
"These Olympics will be different as I will be pushing myself to go for the gold medal, so I will probably need to remove some of the fun part of the Olympics and focus more on my goal," added Hermida.
Read the complete interview.