Donna Dall and Lisa Mathison have a coach/athlete relationship that spans 14 years. When they met at a local mountain bike race in Brisbane, Lisa was fourteen years old and was constantly on her rear wheel. It seems some things just never change. Donna and Lisa were recently interviewed by Australian Mountain Bike Magazine.
AMB: What has it been like to work with Lisa?
DD: There are too many achievements to list but the highlights are definitely watching her win both of her Junior World Cross Country Championships. She has been an absolute pleasure to work with but there have been ups and downs. Being a coach you feel every one of an athlete’s highs and lows. It’s an emotional rollercoaster and the stakes are much higher at the elite level. Lisa has now shown an interest in coaching so I’m excited to be able to be her mentor in that space as well.
AMB: Last year Lisa has switched over to Downhill racing with some tremendous results already. Did you have anything to do with the switch?
DD: Since Lisa’s chronic fatigue back in 2005, she had tried a number of comebacks to XCO with little success and I could see how continuing with the XCO training was getting her down both physically and mentally. It was Lisa’s idea but she was definitely looking for my support to make the switch. We approached some sponsors and voila she had won the National Round in Awaba last year with only 6 weeks of being on a downhill bike! Amazing! Lisa is special so I’d do anything to see her happy and enjoying her mountain biking again. If she’s happy, then I’m happy!
AMB: You have both done some pretty extensive overseas travel together, have you got any funny travelling stories?
DD: In ‘02we’d just finished an epic day in the car from the World Championships in Austria to Switzerland and we turned up at our hotel in Belinzona called the ‘Mona Lisa’ with the rest of the Australian team. We waited for over an hour to check-in with the excuse that our room still needed cleaning. Eventually a dubious couple walked past us in the lobby which we thought nothing about but when we finally were allowed up to our room, the beds were still warm….YUCK! We were totally grossed out and it is something we still laugh about. Lisa renamed the hotel ‘The Moaning Lisa’.
AMB: You have been working with Donna since the very beginning, where did it all start?
LM: We were both members of the RATS (Brisbane South Mountain Bike club) which we still are and Donna was completing her Level 1 coaching course. I was racing inter-schools and looking for some direction regarding beginning a training program. I immediately found her approach to constructing my programs really gelled with me. She is heaps of fun to be around and her enthusiasm really rubs off, and in the years since then we have been able to gain experience together with all the opportunities that have arisen.
AMB: Since returning to the sport you’ve seen Donna’s role in Australian mountain biking grow exponentially. It must be exciting to see how far she has come since those days?
LM: Definitely! She has put in an unbelievable amount of work to make it all happen. Donna has the greatest work ethic of anyone I have met, but it’s exciting to see opportunities for travel, meet and work with new athletes and to now have such a direct impact on many people’s enjoyment of riding. She has travelled with the National team as assistant coach 3 times to World Championships and has athletes banging on the door for training advice through Progressive Coaching Systems. I’m stoked to have been a part of that journey!
AMB: What has been most special about working with Donna, seeing as you resumed the relationship upon your return to the sport?
LM: Since the very beginning she has acted as far more than just a coach. From being a young athlete still discovering my place in the world, to having faced illness through 2005, to the transition to downhill and beginning coaching recently, Donna has always been there for support and advice. These days Donna and her family are definitely friends first for me. I appreciate her belief in me and ongoing support. I can now look forward to working with her in the future as fellow coach!
Why I ride:
Because I love riding. I love the feeling you get when your riding, and its just so much fun!
What you like about being in the Planet-PCS Racing Team:
Its actually a team, everyone pushes each other along and its a combination of the best bikes, best bike shop and best coach.