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On August 21st 2016, N1NO Schurter completed his collection of Olympic medals by winning Gold in Rio de Janeiro, after winning the Bronze medal in Beijing in 2008, and Silver in London in 2012. The 5x UCI MTB World Champion had not only set himself the biggest goal, but also put himself under tremendous pressure to succeed in his Hunt for Glory. Now that the hunt has ended in glory, N1NO breaks down the last few years for us.

N1NO is used to winning. With 5 World Champion titles, 4 World Cup Champion titles and 21 World Cup victories in the books, he is one of the most successful Cycling athletes of all time. Looking back to 2012, at the age of 26 N1NO experienced the biggest “defeat” of his career to date, walking away from the Olympics with a Silver medal having dominated much of the race. In the end, Czech rider Jaroslav Kulhavy took Gold in a race, which today is still considered as one of the most exciting in recent MTB history. However, this “defeat” got the ball rolling for setting new goals- a Gold Medal four years later in Rio.

Setting such a long term goal as a top athlete requires discipline in ways mere mortals like us would have a tough time comprehending. Working on his mental strength was key for N1NO. He trained four years just for one reason- to be fit on Day X, which was August 21st 2016 in Rio. This kind of long term devotion meant that N1NO had to suffer several setbacks. It also meant to learn how to turn negative experiences into positive vibes, and to learn to benefit from them. Beyond that, N1NO had to learn how to tune every single part of his preparation, training, and life in general. From nutrition to high altitude training, from perfect train timing to optimizing recovery – everything was diligently organized.

N1NO's mental and physical preparation had to be maximized to perfection. However, N1NO had to build on a professional surrounding so he could fully concentrate on achieving his ultimate goal. His trainers, physiotherapists and coaches who were in charge of surveying his entire physical progress were coupled with the tech crew in charge of making sure that N1NO never had to second guess the tools of his trade. With the new Spark RC 900 World Cup, N1NO had access to the lightest full suspension race bike on the market. N1NO would not be N1NO if he didn`t insist on testing back and forth to ensure starting with the best possible set-up for the demanding race track in Rio.

N1NO has learned from his past races. He knew exactly what would or wouldn’t work with regards to both his preparation and his mental strategy. Over the years, he also analyzed how his potential Gold competitors would race. An Olympic race is always different to an ordinary mountain bike race. The pressure is tremendous, as a top athlete and as the main contender for the Gold Medal, the public attention one has to handle is something which is hard to imagine even for outstanding people. On Day X, external circumstances can unexpectedly change from dry to rather wet conditions on the track. The right tire choice was key to winning the race, as N1NO stated afterwards. 

N1NO's strategy for Rio was totally different to that of previous races. Alternatively to London four years ago which also saw a fight between him and Jaroslav Kulhavy, N1NO did not want to dominate the race from the beginning but let others do the work to save energy. N1NO tested his rivals during the race. “I set a bunch of small attacks to test them, especially Jaroslav Kulhavy. I finally knew where and when to set an attack. It worked perfectly for me”, N1NO said.

The last pedal strokes made history. Nino set a goal, aimed to achieve it, and won the ultimate reward. 

"I have achieved a lot in Mountain biking. However, my #huntforglory is everlasting. I still love what I do. I love racing and competing with the best guys out there. There are many races out there I want to race and to win- Cape Epic being one of them.”

Nino Schurter, Olympic Champion

Photography: Jochen Haar, Michal Cerveny, Gary Perkin, Armin M. Küstenbrück, Sven Martin