Duanesburg cyclist takes on the unknown at the Summer Olympics


Duanesburg cyclist Emma White enters her first Summer Olympics with confidence in her team, mixed with a sense of the unknown.

The last time White and his American teammates raced the track in a team pursuit, they won a world championship in Berlin, Germany. However, that was 17 months ago, before COVID-19 spread across the planet and delaying the Olympics by a year.

White, Jennifer Valente, Chloe Dygert and Lily Williams will ride together again at the Izu Velodrome in Izu City, Japan with additional member Megan Jastrab in a bid for the United States’ first gold in pursuit by team.

“It’s always hard to say just because we haven’t had the chance to face another team and really see what we’ve got,” said White, a Union College graduate. “But I put all my trust in my coaches, and I know that I personally have become a lot stronger since last year, and so have the rest of the team. Yes, I think it will work out well for our team.

She will take part in the team pursuit on August 2 and 3, in which teams of four riders will work together to achieve the fastest time. In the first lap, the teams start on either side of the track and continue for four kilometers. The winner of the final is determined either by recording the fastest time or by catching the opposing team.

The Americans won silver in 2012 and 2016, finishing behind Great Britain every time.

White, 23, said she and her teammates had put the last year to good use. They trained together twice a week at the US Olympic and Paralympic Training Center in Colorado Springs, including heat training in the sauna to prepare them for summer conditions in Japan.

In the meantime, they did some outdoor road races, but White pointed out that it was far from indoor on the oval track. Of course, many of their rival countries are in a similar situation, White said.

The US team will travel to Los Angeles on Sunday to train for a week on a track more similar to the one they will see in Izu City.

“We’re so lucky with the amount of facilities and resources that we have here, so I think between that and our coaches and the strength of our team, we’ll be in good shape,” she said.

Her father, Tom, also a Union College rowing coach, can’t wait to finally see his daughter compete after a year-long wait. Although fans are not allowed in Tokyo, Whites and other Olympic families were invited to a viewing party at Universal Orlando hosted by NBC and the US Olympic Committee.

“It’s a great relief, to say the least,” said Tom White. “The biggest wild card has been the lack of competition, but it’s largely consistent across the different teams competing. All the numbers are good. Who knows what’s going to happen once you face each other. “

Emma White started cycling at the age of 9 in Duanesburg with her brother Curtis. She then embarked on cyclo-cross, performed on an off-road course with dirt, mud, grass, gravel and sand.

“(Duanesburg) was the best possible area I could have imagined (for cycling),” White said. “Just quiet roads, safe roads. I love to come home. I can still explore and lose myself in it, even having lived there for so long.

She gave up the bumpy cyclocross roads for track racing three years ago and had to adapt to a different kind of bike. She was named to the Olympic team in June, a distinction that came as no surprise after her world championship last year.

“It was a big adjustment (for track cycling),” White said, “but in the end I never would have forgiven myself if I hadn’t seen what was happening on this road.”

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