Epworth’s golden girl makes her mark

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Epworth HealthCare can lay claim to Australia’s newest world record holder, after breast care physician Bridie O’Donnell broke women’s cycling’s world hour distance record last Friday.

O’Donnell produced a cycling masterclass to ride 46.882km at the Adelaide Super-Drome, eclipsing the 46.273km that American Molly Shaffer Van Houweling set last September.

“I can’t believe I broke a world record,” O’Donnell said after getting off her bike and hoisting it above her head.

“I really feel like this is the greatest thing I’ve ever done.”

O’Donnell’s achievement is a tale about never giving up on your dreams.

The 41-year-old burst onto Australia’s cycling scene in 2006, then aged 35.

Over the next three years O’Donnell won eight state, national and Oceania road and time-trial championships, representing Australia at three road world championships in the process.

Those achievements prompted her in 2009 to forfeit a lucrative career as a surgeon and chase glory in an underpaid sport. She spent two years overseas but her endeavours proved fruitless and she returned to Australia in 2012.

O’Donnell went back to medicine and began working in health assessment at Epworth in 2013, where she’s remained ever since.

Undeterred by her fruitless foray into the professional realm, O’Donnell decided to give cycling another crack and has now earned the ultimate reward after a gruelling 12-month project.

She said it was a matter of finding the right event for her.

“I wanted to do something great,” she said.

“I wanted to win an Olympic time trial medal, there is absolutely no doubt about that, and I wanted to win a world championship time trial medal. But a lot of those things, I just hadn’t had enough experience. I had to turn that disappointment into a different focus.”

O’Donnell returned to work at Epworth this week and is unsure about whether she might go for the world record again.

“It’s not like you can keep knocking this over every six months,” she said.

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