San Diegan Cycles to Olympic Glory

pursuit qualifying of the Track Cycling on Day 10 of the Tokyo Olympics 2021 games at Izu Velodrome on Aug. 02, 2021, in Izu, Shizuoka, Japan.
Tim de Waele/Getty Images

San Diegan Jennifer Valente won an Olympic gold medal Saturday night in the women's cycling omnium, a multiple-race event.

Valente medaled and earned bronze Tuesday in the women's team pursuit cycling, after the United States led on every split over Canada in the 4-kilometer race.

"I think anytime you come into the Olympics, you want to go for gold, and today we put together some of the best rides that we were able to, and today on the day it was bronze, and we're really proud of everything behind that and what this bronze means after a year and a half of not racing and really just coming together,'' Valente said after winning her second medal.

Valente won a silver medal in team pursuit in the 2016 Rio Games.

The 26-year-old Valente grew up in San Diego riding mountain and BMX bicycles around her neighborhood with her brothers. Valente's father Thomas raced bikes in the 1980s, and she grew up listening to race stories. She participated in many sports as a youth, including soccer, baseball and swimming.

Encouraged by her father's love of riding bicycles, when she was 14, she attended youth classes at the San Diego Velodrome and was drawn in by the uniquely contained environment in which she could push herself.

In team pursuit, the two opposing teams start on either side of the track. The winner is the team that catches the other team or records the fastest time. A team is caught when the opposing team comes within one meter of the other.

The U.S. team of Valente, Megan Jastrab, Chloe Dygert and Emma White won by 2.512 seconds and was credited with a time of 4:08.04. The time is determined by the third cyclist of the four-member team to cross the finish line. Canada's time at the Izu Velodrome in Shizuoka, Japan, 110 miles south of Tokyo, was 4:10.55.

The United States and Canada raced for the bronze medal because they had the two fastest first-round times.

The U.S. bid for a gold medal ended when it lost its first-round heat to Great Britain, which set a world record, 4:06.748, breaking the previous record of 4:07.307 set by Germany in qualifying Monday. The U.S. was timed in at 4:07.562, a national record and faster than any time before Monday.

"We're proud of what we did out there,'' Valente said. "We left everything on the track. It's just that Team GB had a little more gas.''

The U.S. faced Great Britain in its heat because it posted the third-fastest qualifying time, while Great Britain had the second-fastest time.

Great Britain's record lasted only until the next heat, when Germany regained the record as it was timed in 4:06.159 to advance to the gold medal race against Great Britain.

Germany set another world record, 4:04.242, in winning that gold medal race.

Copyright CNS - City News Service
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