Profession: Retired cyclist, three-time Olympic medalist
- first man to break the “10-second barrier” in the men’s 200 metres; held that world record for 11 years from 1995-2006
- inducted into Canadian Sports Hall of Fame in 2005 and the Olympic Hall of Fame in 2006
Curt Harnett has a lot of hardware under his belt. The cycling star has three Olympic medals including a silver from his first Olympics in Los Angeles in 1984 as well as a bronze medal from Barcelona in 1992 and another from Atlanta in 1996.
He also has a heavy medal haul from the Pan American Games and the Commonwealth Games. Even though Harnett retired from cycling in 1996, he’s still actively involved
in sports, serving as the chef
de mission for Canada at the
2015 Pan American Games in Toronto.
There’s only one thing Harnett, 48, loves more than two wheels: four. His ride is a 2012 Lexus IS F.
Do cyclists make better drivers?
Absolutely. I’m probably the best driver here!
Do you drive a motorcycle?
I used to, many years ago. I had a Honda Hurricane CBR600 ‘87 – it was friggin’ awesome.
Why did you stop riding?
Safety reasons. The beauty of where I had my bike in California – that’s where I spent most of my time. Down there, there’s a huge awareness as to motorcycles on the road. Any time I travelled somewhere where the climate was not summer 12 months a year, I recognized that familiarity with motorcycles on the road was just not there. Road conditions, and my wife just won’t let me buy another.
Any accidents on it?
I had a couple of tumbles – more road condition stuff, the wheel washing out. My cycling career taught me how to crash, so nice tumbles: tuck and roll and get up.
Why did you buy a Lexus IS F?
I spent a significant amount of time debating between the [BMW] M3 and the IS F. When I sat in the cockpit of the IS F it was one of those things – it felt more like home.
I love to drive. I love getting into a car. When I get into my car, push the button and the motor lights up and makes its little rumble sound – I feel very comfortable and at home in my car.
Are you a speeder?
When I retired after the ‘96 Olympics, a reporter asked me, ‘What are you going to do with the rest of [your] life?’You know when you see a car commercial and it says ‘do not attempt at home, professional driver’? I wanted to be that professional driver. I thought that would be the most awesome career, doing car commercials.
What was your first car?
My first car was a 1983 Volkswagen Scirocco Wolfsburg edition, with the single wiper. Quickly got some headers on it. Then we lowered it and put bigger tires on it.
Then I had an Integra 4-door – awesome car. I friggin’ loved that car – it was pretty awesome. The motor was rock solid – it pined to have work done to it, but I never did anything to it. Then I went into a GMC Jimmy, something more sport utility, but I realized I’m not a sport utility guy.
Have you always been a car guy?
I’ve been a car nut from a young age. I used to be one of those kids with the matchbox cars on my mom’s mattress.
I had a go-cart as a kid. I played with that. Then I went into motocross and I started racing motor bikes. I had a really bad year when I was 13 … in the spring season I had an accident off-course and I broke my collarbone. I got back on the bike. Eight weeks later I had another accident and broke my wrist. My father and I sat there and thought we should try to find something that was less dangerous and less expensive. So I chose cycling.
The interview has been edited and condensed.
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