On August 4th, 2012, I sprinted down the blue carpet in 38th place at the 2012 London Olympics. I crossed the finish line and had one thought: How can I win gold in 2016? I researched coaches and joined Jamie Turner and the Wollongong Wizards and the four year journey began. The work has been harder than I ever imagined and although there are days I wonder what in the world I got myself into, most days, I pinch myself in disbelief of how far I’ve come and the life I’m able to live.
I’m in awe of the support I have, and of the patience Jamie and Patrick have with me. I’m fortunate to have them both in my life, leading me on this journey to Rio. This past weekend, I made a huge stride towards my aspiration for gold in Rio: I qualified for the Olympic Games! I am excited, honored, and cannot wait to represent Team USA in Rio next year.
The Olympic Test Event and US Olympic Trials was on August 2nd, 2015. I didn’t know what to expect from the venue as we were told Rio may not have everything completed in time; however, I was pleasantly surprised. The race was extremely professional and the roads we cycled on were in mint condition. I think the biggest thing everyone is talking about is the water quality. The AP published a report saying the water was unclean and dangerous to swim in. I’m told the area we swam at for the race (Copacabana Beach) is the cleanest of the bodies of water that will hold Olympic events in Rio 2016. When I swam in the water, it seemed clean, but you can’t “see” viruses and bacteria in the water. Something that gave me confidence in the water quality was the thousands of tourists and locals swimming in the water daily. Water quality is not a new issue for triathletes. Every major city we race in is going to have some concerns with water quality; however, it’s not something we worry about. The ITU and the USOC conducted water quality tests, like before every race. The results met the standards in order to race. Our health is a priority and the ITU and USOC conduct tests to make sure the standards are met. I don’t waste energy wondering what if. Instead, I prepare for the race and am extremely excited to race. I was impressed with the Rio Test Event and look forward to coming back next year. Not only did I feel safe, but I also loved the crowds. I was amazed with how many people came out to watch the triathlon.
I arrived in Rio on the Monday before the race. Race day arrived quickly and it was hard to believe the biggest race of my season was finally here. I felt prepared, but I was still nervous. I tried to just put it in God’s hands, as I knew all the work was done and there was nothing more I could do but enjoy the race. The race started at 9am with a run into the Ocean at Copacobana beach. The swim was physical and rough for me. I could tell I wasn’t in the position I wanted but I continued to stay in the moment and move up spots. I exited the water in the top 20, and thankfully made the lead bike pack. The bike was eight laps with two hills per lap. I really enjoyed the course. The hills mentally broke up each lap and added an extra challenge. We started the run and it was hot with barely any shade on the 10km course. When I hit the finish tape, I had so many emotions: happiness, joy, excitement, relief … To work towards something for four years is a long time, and I knew I had just accomplished the first step towards my 2016 Olympic dream.
After the race, I hung out with my mom, dad, and sister Elizabeth who I hadn’t seen since Christmas. I also had one of the best nights, thanks to Red Bull hosting a party for me and my supporters and friends. We enjoyed drinks, food, and music on the balcony of a restaurant in Ipanema. It was perfect – thank you, Red Bull! Specialized and Oakley were also at the race providing support.
I flew back to the Basque Region after the race. Patrick and I rented a car and drove to France to have a celebration holiday. We rode some Tour de France climbs and made time for good food, wine, and relaxation. I haven’t been this relaxed in a very long time, and I’m going to enjoy it for as long as I can. I won’t race again until the Grand Final in Chicago on September 18th. Thank you for following and thank you for all the support and the kind messages. The smile on my face is still there and I am looking forward to representing team USA for a second time. Thank you.