The Women’s Cycling Association showcases inspiring riders from the women’s cycling community. This week we’re excited to feature 1996 Olympic Silver Medalist,World Champion and French Road and Track Champion, Marion Clignet.

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Women’s Cycling Association: How did you become involved in cycling?
Marion Clignet: When I was 21, a student at the University of Maryland (playing ultimate frisbee was a past time) one fine day I fell to the ground and woke up not able to remember where I was, my name…and I was pretty sure the president was Nixon.(it was Reagan)…I had just had my first grand mal seizure and was told I had epilepsy for no known reason. I lost my driver’s license for one year…Soooo, I started riding for transportation and before I knew it, I was hooked and entered my first criterium. I was mentored in the beginning by a guy named Steve Tierney who taught me a lot and took me to a lot of my first races…..

Vital Stats
Name: Marion Clignet
Hometown: Toulouse
Racing Age: 51
Category: Pro
Primary Discipline: Road

WCA: How long have you been riding?
Marion: I raced for 5 years in the US-the last 2 years were 1989 and 1990 riding for the US team in the Tour of Molenike in Holland as well as the Post Giro in Norway. After winning several medals at US road nationals in 1990 I opted to race in France ( I have dual nationality) where I continued racing up until 2000 at the elite level and with the men locally until a few years ago.

WCA: What has been your most memorable experience in the sport?
Marion: One of my funnest road trips was with Inga Thompson-we set off to race the Chico stage race with the men and her ’57 Mercedes died on us and we hitched a ride with our gear and all to the race. We made up characters-Mavis and Weaser and played our parts all the way to Chico!

As per an actual race my fondest memory was an elite men’s race in Brittany. 150 of us on the start line, I got in a break of 6, we stayed away till mid race-were caught by a group of 7 and with a few laps to go I was away with 2 guys who duking it out for the gpm competition. I took off on the last lap and rode that bike like I stole it to win! I got yelled at by the guy who got seconds dad but his son stepped in and from that day on his father would always come and shake my hand at a race….

WCA: Do you have a favorite race. If so, why?
Marion: My favorite race while it lasted was Milan San Remo-it was exciting to race such a classic and tactically always interesting. I loved Flanders as well-the weather, people drinking beer all the way up the monts and cobbles!

WCA: What challenges have you faced in cycling?
Marion: All kinds! Lack of support financially, races being cancelled or just not proposing decent programs or appropriate accomodations.

WCA: What do you enjoy most about the sport?
Marion: I enjoy the freedom I feel on a bike.

WCA: What are your goals in cycling?
Marion: To help promote equality across the board in cycling

WCA: What do you think is the biggest challenge women in cycling are facing today?
Marion: Recognition from the media and an equal part in the governance of the sport.

Marion-Clignet-usteam-hollandWCA: What do you think you can do to help women’s cycling grow?
Marion: Work with a positive group of women to recreate our sport in the way women’s tennis players recreated theirs years back.

WCA: What do you like to do in your off season?
Marion: I no longer compete in cycling so I actually do a lot of running now and some cross country skiing.

WCA: What are some of your goals outside of the sport?
Marion: I’m working on a few projects that keep me quite busy…would love to travel more though!

WCA: Are you currently involved with any philanthropic or community organizations? If so, explain:
Marion: For the past 7 years I’ve (with a great group of volunteers and clubs) organised a grand fondo cycling event to raise awareness and educate the general public on epilepsy. This year our goal is to raise 1 million euros to build a gymnasium in a near by village that has a school dedicated to children with pharmacoresistant epilepsy. Id like the gym to serve as a research base as well in order to prove that physical activity is quite beneficial for kids with epilepsy. The ride bought in over 500 participants last year and were working on various ways to raise funds to see this project through. The name of the project is called Building a Dream and the ride is June 6th near Toulouse if you’re out this way. The hightlight is chocolate! I hate trophys so I asked the local artisinal chocolate factory to make us chocolate trophys and wow! They’re tasty!!!

WCA: How did you find out about WCA?
Marion: From Jade Wilcoxson

Follow Marion on the Web:

www.marionclignet.com
Twitter: @actionmarion

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