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Friday, December 18, 2015

Kate O'Brien's Road to Rio

If you haven't heard who Kate O'Brien is we recommend you read up on her and keep an eye out for her this coming Olympic year. A former bobsled athlete recently turned track-cyclist, O'Brien is making a push for an Olympic spot and it all started with an awesome performance at the World Cup 2 weeks ago. Kate's on the blog today to recap her most recent competition. 

"We went into this World Cup aiming for another top eight, with the hopes for higher, ideally a top six performance. We were still in a bit of a precarious position for Olympic qualification. Another solid race here would hopefully widen our lead over Mexico and close the gap on Colombia. After a few nerves, we rode our race and ended up 5th with a new personal best time and closer than we have been to the top countries in the world. Not only did we beat Mexico and Colombia, but we beat a number of other countries that have always been miles ahead of us, finishing about 3/ 100ths out of the finals. It was more than we had thought by far. Again, we're not quite out of the woods as far as qualification goes, but it's pretty incredible to think that one day soon we may have a real shot at being among the top in the world.

I think the ticket for us this time was to really keep our heads in what WE wanted to accomplish, rather than worrying about uncontrollable things like how the other teams would go. There is still more work to do (there always is!) but I think I speak for both of us when I say that we are really excited for what's to come. We still have a lot of improving that we can do, which is a great thing as it means that with more training (and a bit of luck ;)) we can be among those coveted top four by the end of this season. Tonight I felt such gratefulness, not at the result (though I was grateful for that!), but for the fact that we were put in the position to have to fight. After our disappointing continental championships, we really had to rally our bodies and our minds. We were put in a position of fight or flight and thanks to some great people supporting us we have been able to fight. In all honesty, I don't know that we would have finished where we did today were it not for the fire that was lit inside of us. We were able to aim higher than just "beat who we need to beat", and move into "let's try to be the best we can be".

On Saturday I competed in my second ever World Cup sprint tournament. As I mentioned following Colombia, I was a bit disappointed, finishing 25th in the qualification and not getting into the tournament (24 went through). This time around, that was my goal- top 24 in the qualifications and then getting into the rounds. I always feel a bit of trepidation when I'm in a sprint tournament- like I don't belong or am too new. I have really been trying to work on that and at this World Cup, I felt that my competitive head was in the best place it has been for a while. The field was immensely close in times, so I was pleasantly surprised to find that I had qualified 12th which was a few hundredths off of some of the top girls. I was stoked to move up 11 places from last World Cup and I finally felt like I had a real opportunity to show my stuff in the match sprints! I was matched with a girl who was pretty much the same speed as me, nearly down to the thousandth. Unfortunately I was knocked out in the first round. That said, since I started sprints, I have really felt like a fish out of water; there are so many tactics involved, kind of like playing chess at 60km/ h. Though I didn't come out on top on Saturday, and I still have a lot to learn, I felt like I took a pretty big step. I managed to wrap my head around things a bit better and come closer than I had before. I am looking forward to the next World Cup in Hong Kong where I'll hopefully get another shot to show my stuff, this time deeper into the sprint rounds!

At the moment, we have been given a few days off before getting back to training in Milton pre- Christmas. I am staying in New Zealand a bit longer and will return to Milton on Thursday. Then back to it on Friday with a double day- whew! I feel really hungry for the next chapter- stay tuned!"

Stay hungry Kate - we are so excited to keep you fuelled and hydrated on your Road to Rio!