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French cyclist, 52-year-old Jeannie Longo, wins 58th national title

By Johnny Summerton
Posted Jun 24, 2011 in Sports
Sporting legend is such an overused expression, but if anyone deserves to be described as such, it's her.
On Thursday the 52-year-old (let's put that in capitals for those of you who might not have been paying attention; FIFTY-TWO-YEAR-OLD) once again beat women more than half her age to win the French national time trial at Boulogne-sur-Mer in northern France.
And as the regional daily La Dépêche du Midi says, we're all running out of superlatives to describe her remarkable career.
Thursday's win - her fourth consecutive time trial title - brought her total tally of national road and track crowns to a mind-boggling 58.
Indeed the stats for her career at national, world and Olympic level are staggering.
Alongside those 58 national titles she has also 13 world championships victories to her name and four Olympic medals including one Gold in the 1996 Road Race at the Atlanta Games.
Speaking after Thursday's race Longo told reporters that she hadn't been that confident about being able to hold on to her title.
"It went well, but I wasn’t entirely confident today. I didn’t feel great," the women French journalists affectionately refer to as "Super Jeannie" or, with a degree of reverence in alluding to her age "Super Grannie", told reporters.
"This 58th title gives me immense pleasure and I'll admit to feeling a little nostalgic on the podium because (19)58 was also the year I was born."
So with title number 58 under her belt the question on many people's lips is whether she'll have another bash at the Olympics in London next year.
In Beijing in 2008 she narrowly missed out on a medal after she finished fourth in the Road Time Trial.
And although she's not yet mentioning the word retirement, Longo is hesitant to make any promises about next year.
"I'm not really sure I want the stress of international competition," she told reporters.
"If I were to train for the Olympics it would mean another year of stress...and I have a house to finish building," she continued.
"At this rate, I'll be living in a trailer for goodness know how long."
While the Olympics might remain a question mark in her diary, one more title beckons.
Longo is due to ride in the French national road race on Saturday.
She certainly puts the rest of us to shame.

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