One second more than a cowboy needs to stay on a bull to make money.
That's all that kept Catharine Pendrel of Kamloops off the podium at the 2008 Olympic Summer Games in Beijing.
Still, that was four years ago and Pendrel, who was named Wednesday to Canada's Olympic mountain-biking team, wasn't yet a Canadian or a World champion.
"When I went to Beijing, the medal hope was Marie-Hélène (Prémont) and it was hoped that I could do a top-five performance," Pendrel said during a Cycling Canada conference call yesterday afternoon. "For most of the race, I was battling back and forth with the current world champion, Irina Kalentieva, for the bronze medal position. For me, fourth was a huge victory.
"I surpassed my expectations of what I had thought I could achieve there. I felt that I really did rise to the occasion. As heart-breaking as it was to watch that podium and know how close I was to being on it, at the same time I know that I did rise to the occasion and I hope to do that again this Olympics."
The four-person Canadian team was revealed in Mount Sainte Anne, Que., where Pendrel won her fourth straight national championship last weekend. She is scheduled to compete in a World Cup International race there on Saturday. Pendrel is reigning WCI champion - she won her first WC title in 2010 - and goes into the weekend in first place.
Pendrel, 31, and Emily Batty, 24, of Brooklin, Ont., comprise the Canadian women's team, with Geoff Kabush, 35, of Courtenay and Max Plaxton, 27, of Victoria on the men's team.
The Games open in London on July 27, but the mountain biking isn't scheduled until the event's last two days, with the women on Aug. 11 and the men the next day.
Pendrel, who was born in Fredericton and raised in Harvey Station, N.B., now lives and trains in Kamloops. She has been a member of the Canadian team since 2003.
With Pendrel, who also rides for Team Luna Pro, leading the way, the Canadian women's team is ranked No. 1 in the world.
"We definitely have a strong team," Pendrel said. "It's so unfortunate that we only get to take two women to the Olympics because we have three women who can go there and can perform."
Batty, who made her first WCI podium appearance this season, beat out the 34-year-old Prémont for the second spot on the team.
"Emily did an excellent job," Pendrel said of Batty, who turned 24 last weekend. "She was incredibly prepared for those first four selection events. She scored her first WC podium at the age of 23. It's really great to see the work that Emily has done and the improvements she has made over the last couple of years.
"It's only 2012 and there's lots of room for her to grow. It's pretty exciting for the future of mountain biking in Canada."
Pendrel also realizes that being No. 1 in the world means pressure when the Olympics arrive. That, however, doesn't bother her; it just means that she will again raise her expectations.
"People really rise to the challenge of the Olympics," she said. "Emily and myself have shown that we can be on the (WCI) podium.
"It's the Olympics and everyone is going to be bringing their A game. There are a lot of very talented women out there. I feel there are six or more women who are capable of the win on the day, so we all have to bring our A game."
What that means, of course, is that a fourth-place finish won't be seen as rising to the occasion.
"Whenever you have expectations on you," she pointed out, "that can be a huge positive because it means that there are that many people who believe in you and your ability. You need to harness those expectations and turn it into confidence, and that's what I plan to do going into London."
Canadian riders have only two Olympic medals to their credit since women's mountain biking was added to the roster for the 1996 Summer Games in Atlanta. Alison Sydor of Edmonton won silver in Atlanta; Prémont, from Quebec City, did the same in Athens in 2004.
Pendrel and the other competitors in August will be riding on a man-made track at Hadleigh Farm in Essex. She knows what she is up against as she won the Olympic test event there in August, topping a field that included Sabine Spitz of Germany, the defending Olympic champion. Pendrel also had two training days on the course earlier this year.
So far, she likes what she has seen.
"It's a good course," she said. "It's going to be quite fast. There is lots of rock . . . man-made obstacles, (with) a fair amount of short, twisty climbs."
A strong, aggressive rider, Pendrel feels there are enough tough climbs that it should work to her advantage and, hopefully, get her onto the podium.
Either way, though, she won't say that this is her final Olympic Games.
She sounded awfully interested in another trip to Rio de Janeiro, the site of the 2016 Summer Games and where she won the 2007 Pan American Games gold medal.
"I won't rule that out," she said of 2016. "I will be 32 by the end of this year but that makes me only 36 in 2016 and the last Olympic gold medallist was 36 when she won.
"I feel like I'm still a developing rider. There is so much for me to learn and improve. As long as I keep loving riding my bike, then I will continue to do so."
In the meantime, it's on to London.