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Scottish cyclist Graeme Obree has overcome a suicide attempt to get back in shape for an attempt on Chris Boardman’s world hour record next month.
Obree made his breakthrough in 1993 when he won at the world track championships in Norway on a homemade bike with a bearing salvaged from a washing machine. In the same year, he broke the one-hour world record by covering 51.596km, but the record stood for just six days before Olympic gold medalist Boardman shattered it, only for Obree to reclaim the record in 1994.
Obree retired in 1997 after being diagnosed with manic depression. Two years ago he was found hanging from the rafters of a barn in his native Scotland but was saved by a farmer whose daughter discovered him.
In his absence from cycling, the one-hour record passed through the hands of Spanish Tour de France legend Miguel Indurain and Tony Rominger of Switzerland before Boardman reclaimed the mark by pedaling for 49.441km, under new rules for the record, at the Manchester Velodrome in October 2000.
Obree attempted a comeback that year to win the record back but a viral infection and a serious accident, which left him with a broken breastbone and a shattered kneecap, quashed his hopes.
Now 38, Obree told AFP from his home on the southwest coast of Scotland that he was fit enough to make a fresh attempt on the record and would begin his challenge by returning to the track where Boardman set the mark.
“I’m making a serious attempt,” he said. “I began training again on a very strict schedule at the start of the winter, and I’ll do a test in Manchester on April 4. If everything goes well, I will make an attempt on the world record shortly afterwards.
“Boardman’s time won’t be easy to beat but my hopes are high. I’m really training hard and even if I’m two kilos heavier than in 1993, those are two kilos of muscle.”
Obree admits he has been treated for depression at a psychiatric hospital, but says it helped him to chronicle his problems in an autobiography. In cycling-mad France, the translated version of the book will be called “Le TGV ecossais” or “The Scottish High-Speed Train.” –Copyright 2004/AFP