Pursuit team riding high after Olympic track cycling bronze in Rio
They may have all come from different starting points, but this group of cyclists now shares a common destination—the Olympic podium in Rio.
Jasmin Glaesser, Kirsti Lay, Georgia Simmerling and Allison Beveridge raced to bronze in the women’s team pursuit on Saturday, while Laura Brown (who filled in for Lay during a qualifying race) will also receive a medal.
Brown was the alternate on the team that won bronze at London 2012, but didn’t race and wasn’t awarded a medal. That made Canada’s defeat of New Zealand in this year’s bronze-medal race all the more satisfying.
“It’s cliché, but it was everything I dreamed about,” said Brown. “Watching them ride to that bronze medal final was just amazing.”
Glaesser is the only returning medalist from that 2012 team, and she’s been able to see the progress that’s been made within the program in that time.
“Four years ago, that medal was really a surprise,” said Glaesser. “But it was a stepping stone for everything that’s come since.
“To put it together on the day, and when it matters, that’s an incredible feeling … I truly believe that every single one of us left it all out there, and at the Olympics, you really couldn’t ask for more than that.”
For Simmerling, this is her first Olympic medal after competing in alpine skiing at Vancouver 2010 and ski cross at Sochi 2014. She’s the first Canadian athlete to compete in three different sports at three different Olympic Games, but said completing Saturday’s race was an extra special moment.
“It’s the most rewarding thing ever because when you get off the track, you’re just so proud of yourself for what you did,” she said.
There’s no time to rest, however; Simmerling said she’ll be getting back on skis in about a month.
The team pursuit bronze was also a first Olympic medal for Lay, though not the first one in her household. Husband Mathieu Giroux won gold in speed skating at Vancouver 2010.
Lay had been a speed skater herself, but switched to cycling after being forced to retire from skating due to injury. She said the lessons learned on the ice helped her excel inside the velodrome.
“I’m still using the same engine, I still have the tactics of being a high-performance athlete, so that definitely transferred over,” said Lay. “But I wouldn’t be here without my teammates, that’s for sure. They’ve definitely made me better.”
Indeed, on a team where every member seemingly came from another sport (Glaesser has a background in running), the one thing binding these athletes together is a desire to push through the pain to succeed on the track.
“We just gel, we’re like a sisterhood,” said Brown. “The respect we have for each other shows on the track. We go out there and we bury ourselves for each other.”