Olympic Games: Go Shelley-O! Go USA!
This month, Shelley Olds '03 will realize the dream of a lifetime.
On July 29, she'll be on the starting line of the women's Olympic road cycling race as a member of the U.S. Olympic Road Cycling Team.
Olds has been training in mountains in the north of Spain, and she plans to arrive in London on July 23. Her four-hour race starts at noon, London time. NBC will broadcast the race at 7 a.m. Eastern time.
"My parents and my brother and his wife are all coming to London," Olds said by email. "I am very excited to have them there to support me."
Olds' Olympic debut will make her the second Roanoke College graduate to compete in the Games. The first was Richard "Dick" Emberger '60, who took 10th place in the decathlon at the 1964 Olympics in Tokyo.
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.
A former standout soccer player at Roanoke, Olds is a relative newcomer to professional cycling. At Roanoke, she was captain of the women's soccer team for two years. She also was named ODAC Player of the Year, an All-State and All-Region player, and she was nominated as an All-American.
Seven years ago, Olds was introduced to cycling 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. She has been training and preparing for this top level of competition in the past year with 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.
Phil Benne, Roanoke's women's soccer coach, has been following Olds' cycling success. Her determined work ethic and mental strength, evident during her time competing for Roanoke, likely has been the key to her transition to cycling glory, he said.
"She would push through any situation," Benne said.
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.
Photo: On July 4, Shelley Olds won stage 6 of the Giro Donne, a hard nine day stage race in Italy. (Photo credit: C.J. Farquharson)
"You have to be sincerely passionate and dedicated as well as disciplined to have success in the sport," Olds 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."
After her Olympic race, Olds plans to return to Spain with her parents for a well-deserved break.
But her competitive days will be far from over.
Following a short break, she'll race in three more World Cup events, and then, begin preparing for the World Championships.
For more about the Olympic cycling races, visit http://www.london2012.com/cycling-road/about/.
For more photos and information about Olds' career, visit her website at www.shelleyoldsusa.com.
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