At her peak
From the Roanoke College Magazine, Issue Two, 2012. View the entire Roanoke Magazine online.
On July 29, 2012, the eyes of Maroon Nation were peeled to televisions, computers, tablets and cellphones as Shelley Olds '03 competed in the 2012 Olympics Women's Road Race. Olds placed seventh, crossing the finish line in 3 hours, 35 minutes and 56 seconds. She was the top finisher among the four U.S. Women's Cycling Team members and posted the best result for an American woman in the Olympic road race in 20 years.
Olds, 31, of Gilroy, Calif., joined 66 other women on a rain-plagued, 89-mile race through the streets of London. With 22.3 miles left, Olds was in good medal contention. She found herself in a breakaway - a small group of riders leading the pack - when she punctured a tire and fell back in the race.
The gold medal went to top-ranked Marianne Vos of Holland who had a time of 3:35:29. Silver went to Britain's Lizzie Armitstead (3:35:29) and bronze to Olga Zabelinskaya (3:35:31), of Russia.
Olds traveled to the Summer Olympic Games from Livigno, in the Italian Alps, in preparation for races and for the Olympics. In July, she competed in a hard nine-day stage race in Italy, the Giro Donne, in which she won stage 6, appropriately on the Fourth of July. After the race, she returned to Girona, Spain which has been her temporary home base, to complete and fine-tune her training for the Olympics.
Post-Olympics, Olds will return to Girona to spend time with her parents, who traveled to London to cheer her on. Following that short break, she'll race in three more World Cup events, then begin preparing for the World Championships.
Olds is a relative newcomer to cycling, taking up the sport just five years ago. 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 in 2005, while riding on the back of a tandem mountain bike.
Olds has become one of the highest-ranked women's cyclists in the world. Initially, she competed in track cycling but this year realized 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 in May at the Tour of Chongming Island World Cup #5 in China helped secure her selection to the Olympic team.
Olds 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, and the Elite Criterium U.S. National Championships.