Two Marian University cycling program graduates will represent the U.S. in the Olympic Road Race and BMX Racing competitions next month, in Tokyo. WFYI’s Taylor Bennett sat down with one of them -- Felicia Stancil -- to find out about her road to the Olympics.
WFYI Newscaster and Reporter Taylor Bennett: What was your first reaction when you heard that you made the Olympic team?
Olympic Cyclist Felicia Stancil: I was very honored. Three girls and two guys were selected from the entire United States. So to be one of those people selected, and to potentially go to the games, like and get a medal would be just amazing for myself and for the sport and for the country.
Bennett: Now, what's your training like now, to get ready?
Stancil: It's very intense. I just got my new training block all the way until the games. So I know like every single workout I'm doing until the game, and it's hard, I like looked it over. I thought it would be a lot more rest and like higher intensity, but it's higher intensity, more volume as well, because the Olympic track is an extra 10 seconds that we're not used to. So it's very, yeah, it's high intensity, lots of weights in the gym, sprints and a lot of track work just to be mentally comfortable riding with people.
Bennett: What is racing, like, what is the competition like?
Stancil: So BMX racing is only 40 to 50 seconds long. The Tokyo Olympic track is 10 seconds longer than any other track that I race on. So it is very high intensity, it's very exciting. And the Olympic style track has an eight meter hill compared to the traditional USA BMX tracks that any age can do.
So this eight meter starting hill, is very big. It's about three stories, like a three story building high, and eight girls raced down it at the exact same time. So not only are you going down this hill as fast as you can, you're going down at with seven other girls that want to go as fast as they can as well. And you're going to a jump that's traditionally like a gap. And it's just a big first jump. So it's very all out intensity. And there aren't really rules. Like if you want to like go over and other people's lanes you can --oh my gosh, yeah -- it's very high intensity, but it's very exciting.
Bennett: Yeah, have you had any serious accidents, It just sounds like with that much intensity and that fast. And those hills, it seems like that would be a concern.
Stancil: My first couple of years of Pro, I had some injuries, because I didn't know how to really like handle the speed I had. Because I was like, very, like, I had the BMX fitness. But I didn't ride a lot of tracks. So I didn't have the skills. But now my skills kind of match my speed. So everything's been good lately, but there were some injuries on the road to get here.
Bennett: Well, I'm glad you're okay. When do you leave?
Stancil: I leave around July 20. We're only allowed in the village seven days before our first competition. And I compete on the 29th and 30th. The first day is qualifiers for the second day. So the 30th will be the finals.
Benett: Do you have any concerns about traveling, considering we've been in a pandemic? Have they've given you any special things that you have to do when you go over there? How are things right now as far as the travel?
Stancil: They're sending us like COVID kits, we will be tested a few times, I believe. So we'll have like multiple tests the week before we travel. And then we'll kind of do our best just to like, control the things we can control washing your hands wearing a mask while we travel.
Bennett: Well good luck. We'll be rooting for you.
Stancil: Thank you so much.