Leah Goldstein is currently a professional cyclist with Team ValueAct Capital, as well as the reigning Israeli National Champion in both the Time Trial and Road Race disciplines. Prior to being on the Israeli National Team, Leah was on the Canadian National Team for three years. Her palmares include being a three time winner of the Mt. Hood Stage Race; one of the most difficult stage races in the United States. Leah recently placed 12th at the Redlands Classic Stage Race, an amazing accomplishment at such a prestigious event, especially since she sustained a near fatal crash in 2005.
Leah's athletic accolades and toughness date back to the age of 17, when she became the Kickboxing Champion of the World. In between her career as a professional kickboxer and a professional cyclist, Leah enlisted in the Israeli Military and was an instructor at the Israeli Police Academy.
Here is the transcript of Oy Velo's interview with Leah Goldstein:
Oy Velo: Thank you for agreeing to speak with Oy Velo regarding your cycling career, I really appreciate your time.
Leah Goldstein: No problem.
OV: First of all, World Kickboxing Champion at 17! How did you get involved in kickboxing?
LG: I was obsessed with Bruce Lee when I was a kid. At the age of 5, I begged my parents to enroll me in karate classes. My parents said that I was too young. I kept asking them about it and they told me I could do it when I was 10 years old. They thought I forgot about it after that, but on my 9th birthday I reminded them that in one year I could start taking karate lessons. Finally, they let me start classes.
OV: I bet they were happy that they changed their minds.
LG: Actually, they didn't know about the extent of my involvement in kickboxing until I started winning titles. Kickboxing came very easy to me and it was clear that I could become the best in the world. At that point, my dad, who is a former boxer, started training with me. It was crazy, but my dad and I really sparred.
OV: How did you transition from kickboxing to cycling.
LG: After I won the World Championship, I decided to get out of the sport. I really loved it, but I knew it wasn't a good idea to keep taking punches to the head.
OV: It's kind of ironic that you transitioned into cycling after deciding to protect your head, because you had one of the most horrific crashes I've ever read about. As I understand it, your crash occurred during a high-speed descent at over 70 kph. It resulted in road rash from your head to your toes and 15 broken bones including your arm, cheek bone, pelvis and several ribs. Plus, your lips and the majority of your face rubbed off and you broke five of your teeth to the root. . . you must really love cycling to be back on the bike.
LG: Yes, I really do love it. After the accident, the doctors took all of the mirrors out of my room and I spoke with sports counselors about how I wouldn't be able to walk again. I had to use a catheter. . . it was pretty bad. I was determined to make a comeback though. After 8 months, I resumed my training, albeit in a wheelchair. Last year, I finally started riding well again.
OV: That's amazing. It's also amazing that your face looks great. You can't even tell that you had an accident.
LG: Thank you. I had a good plastic surgeon.
OV: What are your goals now?
LG: I'm just having fun now. My team is great and allows me to focus on the races I want to do. I'm very selective and I like stage races with mountains and time trials. I'm not a sprinter, so I have no desire to be involved in dangerous criteriums.
OV: What races do you have coming up?
LG: Right now, I'm training in the mountains in Vernon, British Columbia Canada for a few weeks before I resume racing. I'd like to try to win Mt. Hood again and defend my Israeli National titles in both the Time Trial and Road Race.
OV: Sounds like a plan. Okay, it's time for the six questions, so put on your thinking cap.
1) Is seaweed kosher?
OV: Okay, I'll give you half credit. Seaweed is Kosher, but it requires checking for infestation before you eat it. Incidently, this seems like a good idea anyway?
LG: In that case, it's probably not Kosher because there is so much pollution now, all of the seaweed is likely to be infested.
OV: Bonus, environmental awareness. Now you get full credit for question number one.
2) Who is Canadian, William Shatner or Harvey Keitel?
LG: Who? The first one I guess.
OV: You are correct, though it seemed like a lucky guess.
LG: It was.
3) Bibs or shorts?
LG: Shorts! I won't sign a contract unless I'm guaranteed shorts.
OV: Correct, bibs make it impossible for a girl to go to the bathroom before or during a race.
4) How long did it take Moses to build the ark?
LG: Moses didn't build the ark.
OV: I mean Noah.
LG: I thought it was a trick question.
OV: No, I'm an idiot. How long did it take NOAH to build the ark?
LG: 7 years.
OV: Nope. 120 years.
LG: So I was close.
OV: That sounds bad, but my dad's an accountant and it would take him at least 140 years to build an ark that would sink.
LG: Me too.
5) Matzah ball soup or fried matzah?
LG: Matzah ball soup. I don't like fried food.
OV: You don't have to deep fry it, it's like french toast. Still, the soup is delicious, so you get credit.
6) Which sport was invented by a Canadian, fencing or basketball?
OV: Yes, James Nasmith was Canadian.
LG: That was actually on a commercial in Canada a few years ago.
OV: Not surprisingly, Canada’s other inventions were the snow blower and snow mobile.
OV: Mazel Tov! You got five out of six Stars of David! Thanks again for your time and good luck the rest of the season.