Cyclist wins Male Athlete of the Decade

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It's good to see a cyclist finally named as an Athlete of the Decade.

No. It's not Lance Armstrong, who got squeezed out by a golfer in the Associated Press and USA Today polls.

We're talking about world champion track cyclist Marty Nothstein of Trexlertown, Pennsylvania. The 38-year-old got the nod from the editors at the Allentown (PA) Morning Call this week.

Nothstein grew up racing at the velodrome in Trexlertown and used that experience to earn an Olympic gold medal and win three world championships and 34 gold medals at US National Championships from 1994 through 2004, as well as criteriums victories through 2005.

Career change

The Morning Call reports that after he won the gold medal in the Sprint at the 2000 Olympic Games in Sydney, he switched careers to road racing where his winning ways continued. He told the Morning Call:

''After winning the gold medal in 2000, I earned over 150 victories on my bicycle. That's a lot of bicycle races coming across first, but one thing never wavered. I was always a true professional. I approached cycling as my job, and I worked extremely hard at it, probably harder than anyone in the country.''

Road racing required he downsize from a 220-pound sprinter to a 190-pound roadie. Morning Call reports that he bagged victories in the “U.S. criterium championship, the New York City Cycling Championships and raced in 28 professional European 6-Days races, the most for an individual in the modern 6-Days era.”

Velodrome exec

Today, Nothstein is giving back to the sport as executive director at the Valley Preferred Cycling Center in Trexlertown. The velodrome is suffering through loss of sponsorships due to the economic downturn, the Morning Call reports, although it still has first-rate programs to train future track racers.

Nothstein keeps his racing alive in the NHRA Top Alcohol Funny Car class.

It's good to see a cyclist get his due for the hard work, dedication and athleticism that the sport requires.

AP Poll

Something that I've been pondering for the past couple of weeks is why Armstrong didn't win the AP Athlete of the Decade poll. He came in second to Tiger Woods (56-33).

The Associated Press polled its member sports editors to pick from a list of 10 athletes who exceled from 2000 to 2009.

If you look at sports pages, you'd have to agree that most sports editors just don't get cycling. Bike racing news is buried in tiny print at the back of the section.

However, the game of hitting a small round ball with a stick, climbing in a cart, driving to where it landed and hitting it again — that's a form of athleticism these sports desk jockeys can understand.

They're seriously out of touch. I'm glad the Morning Call called this one right.

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