Shelley Olds, a 2003 graduate of Roanoke College, is London-bound. On June 15, she was named to the U.S. Olympic Road Cycling Team.
Olds, 31, of Gilroy, Calif., joins three other women who will represent the United States in the Olympic road race – Evelyn Stevens, of Acton, Mass.; Kristin Armstrong (2008 Olympic gold medalist), of Boise, Idaho; and Amber Neben, of Irvine, Calif. The announcement – along with announcements of track cycling, mountain biking and bicycle motocross teams – was made by USA Cycling.
“Today, I can say that I have achieved one very big lifelong goal, and that is making the U.S. Olympic Team,” Olds wrote in an email on June 19. “I am so proud to represent my country in London and I will perform there to the best of my ability for myself and everyone who has supported me from the beginning as I chased my dream.”
Olds recently has been training in Livigno, in the Italian Alps, in preparation for races and for the Olympic Games. Next on her plan, as she prepares for the Olympics, is two weeks of high-altitude training, followed by a hard 9-day stage race in Italy, the Women’s Giro d’Italia. After the race, she will return to Girona, Spain to complete and fine-tune her training for the day of the Olympic road race event, scheduled for July 29.
In print and on the Web, Olds is heralded in article after article with words like “diminutive powerhouse,” “dynamo” and “five-foot assassin” – strong descriptors that perhaps conjure images of ‘WrestleMania.’
In truth, the words aren’t completely off-base in describing Olds, who has emerged as one of the world’s top women competitive cyclists
Olds is a relative newcomer to cycling. At Roanoke, she served as captain of the Women’s Soccer Team for two consecutive years. She was named ODAC Player of the Year, All-State, All-Region, and was nominated as an All-American. Her introduction to cycling came just seven years ago, while riding on the back of a tandem mountain bike.
Olds has since soared, becoming one of the highest-ranked women’s cyclists in the world. Initially, she competed in track cycling but is now realizing her dream of competing in the Olympic Games in road cycling. She has been training and preparing for this top level of competition in the past year competing in a full schedule of road races in New Zealand, Italy, Belgium, Holland and China. Her win at the Tour of Chongming Island World Cup #5 in China helped to secure her nomination to the Olympic team.
Olds already has amassed quite a collection of triumphs. She is a three-time national champion in two disciplines of cycling – road and track. In 2010, she won the Pan American Road Championships, the final stage at the Women’s Giro D’Italia, the Elite Criterium U.S. National Championships, and four stages and the overall general classification at the Tour of New Zealand. In 2008-2009, she won the Elite Scratch Race National Championships.
“Shelley had a drive and a level of competitiveness that would turn on the instant the whistle blew,” Roanoke women’s soccer coach Phil Benne said. “Her level of fitness, combined with her skill, enabled her to impact each and every game. She is definitely one of the top midfielders and athletes I have had the privilege to coach.”
In an interview last year, Olds referred to cycling as “a tough sport.”
“You have to be sincerely passionate and dedicated as well as disciplined to have success in the sport,” she said. “I learned a lot about passion and dedication at Roanoke, being a part of the athletic programs there, so I was well-prepared for the challenge ahead of me.”
In her email, Olds wrote that “as a female cyclist, my ultimate goal is to represent my country in the Olympic Games. For me, this has always symbolized the peak athletic experience.”
“As a child, and now as an adult, I am most moved by the athletes who compete in the Olympics. Watching them perform evokes something in me that is unparalleled by any other life experience.”
For more information about Shelley Olds, visit http://www.usacycling.org/shelley-olds.htm. For more information about the Olympic road race event, visit http://www.london2012.com/cycling-road/about/
Submitted by Roanoke College