Bart Brentjens is now trying to bring Olympic gold to other mountain bikers

Many top athletes hope to win a ticket for the Olympic Games in Paris in the coming months. We have trained very hard for years and it has to happen this summer. Acting at the most important sports tournament in the world is great, as Bart Brentjens knows. But the period after the Games is also very important. The mountain biker from Huisseling had to deal with a big dip after his gold medal in 1996. “I was behind the times all year.”

Mountain biking was on the Olympic program for the first time in 1996 and Bart took gold. “After that a lot came at me. I was invited to everything and went from ceremony to opening. Of course I benefited and enjoyed it too, because I could earn some extra money. I also enjoyed the attention.”

“It was a very hard learning experience.”

However, from a sporting point of view it was a bad year. “While you are busy with all kinds of things, your competitors are on their bikes. They quickly led 1-0. When preparing for competitions, I neglected too many details. I was no match for them. That was a very hard learning experience.”

He was never as good as he was in Atlanta again. He participated in the Olympic Games three more times, with a bronze medal as his best result. He will also be there next edition, but as manager of his mountain bike team. Several riders from the team will be in action in Paris.

As an experienced expert, he is ready to give advice. “The most important tip is not to make it too difficult. Performance mainly comes from getting on the bike a lot.”

“A spoiled rider is of no use to you.”

“It’s also about how mentally resilient you are. You can train wonderfully in sunny South Africa, but what if it is cold and rainy here? If you only assume perfect conditions, you won’t win much. A spoiled rider is of no use in this hard world. When you face setbacks, you have to show your best side.”

Brentjens also says that the riders should above all enjoy themselves. “There are always jitters before big competitions and even more so before the Games, including for me. It’s nice to feel that tension again. Of course we as a team would like a medal. Otherwise it should be a good motivation to be even stronger in four years’ time. Because this is the stage where you want to perform.”

“Everything has to be superlative.”

Compared to the past, he sees similarities, but also clear differences. “A lot has changed in the bicycle field. We used to just do the tinkering ourselves, but now you really can’t do it without a mechanic. The riding is often the same, except now everyone cycles under power. You have to be very good technically, have no fear and be one with your bike. To reach the top, you have to do everything in the superlative. You get up and think about everything about what is best for you.”

After 28 years, will Brabant get a new Brabant with Olympic gold in mountain biking? “The Netherlands has a very good mountain biker in Mathieu van der Poel. He has the qualities for a gold medal. However, it also has to go well on the day itself.”