It’s a lock: Lydia goes for fifth Games
Inspired by the recent approval of a new water ramp facility to be built at the NSW North Coast town of Lennox Head, Lydia Lassila has announced plans to target a fifth Winter Olympics.
A gold medallist from Vancouver 2010, she has agonised over the decision since also taking out bronze at the Sochi Games in 2014.
And while she accepts that realistically she may not even get to use the new Australian facility before the Games she was determined to go out on her own terms.
“A lot of ex-athletes have said to me you are a long time retired so make sure you are stopping for the right reasons,” the 34 year-old mother of two told The Snow Gauge.
“I want to retire because I’ve had enough – not because I couldn’t train in Australia.”
She said during travelling around the country to promote her film The Will to Fly, the most common question she was asked was whether she’d compete again.
In her heart she wanted to but also grappled with having small children, trying to build a house and run a business. Then also knowing she still had to do almost all of her training overseas.
“The part that makes me a little bit sad is that if we had that facility in place my decision to continue would have been different , it would have been so easy,” she said.
“That’s why I delayed the decision.”
So the Lennox Head go-ahead may have been cathartic – if not entirely practical for her given it could take anywhere up to two years to build.
“Optimistically we could have something running by June (2017) and that would give me an extra two months of training here … but I am not going to hold my breath,” she said.
Instead Lassila will embark on a training camp in Switzerland over July/August this year to get back up to speed with her jumps and then head to Finland later in the year to practise on snow.
She is considering tackling an abbreviated World Cup campaign for 2016/17 but will wait to see how the first few months of her comeback play out before making any further decisions.
“I’m not going to the Olympics to do the biggest trick a woman has done before because realistically that may be too risky for me and too dangerous because I just may not be able to have the preparation to do it safely,” said Lassila who just failed to land a women’s first quad-twisting triple somersault in competition at Sochi.
“But we’ll see. Anything is possible.”
If successful in making a fifth Games Lassila will be the first Australian woman to compete at five Winter Olympics and likely just the third across summer/winter.
Fellow aerialist Jacqui Cooper was named in five Games teams but was injured while training in the lead-up to the Salt Lake City event of 2002.
Beach volleyballer Natalie Cook featured in five Summer Olympics and she’s expected to be joined on that mark in Rio by table tennis’ Fang Lay.