2 years ago by Tom Owen

An Olympics like no other

Emma White and Lily Williams check-in ahead of Tokyo 2020

The Tokyo 2020 Summer Olympic Games are just around the corner now, and two of Rally Cycling’s athletes are on their way to Japan (via Los Angeles) to compete on the velodrome.

Emma White and Lily Williams were hard at work at the USA Cycling training facility in Colorado all through the pandemic, and are now just days away from achieving their shared dream of being Olympians.

I’m absolutely thrilled that they’re going ahead,” says White. “That part doesn’t even feel real. We’d already accepted the fact that we could be Olympians, and then that kind of got destroyed.”

Emma joined the team in 2016 with extensive experience on the cyclo-cross circuit but had not set foot on a velodrome as an elite athlete.

As the Games have come closer and closer, the training load has naturally increased for the two former world champions.

“We’ve been working so hard in the last couple of months, and we’ve put our bodies through more stress than they’ve ever been under,” added White. 

Williams, too, is feeling the effects.

“It’s crazy how quickly it’s all of a sudden become real. We’re in the midst of our last huge training block, so we’re pretty worked.”

They are training in Los Angeles before flying on to Tokyo, to spend some time on the USA’s only 250-meter velodrome. After the camp, it’s a hop over the Pacific to Japan. 

All through their extended journey to this delayed Games, it has been inspiring to see the positive vibes emanating from the Olympic track squad via their social media accounts. 

“I think things have been really positive and I think we’re going into it with about as healthy of a mindset as you can, given the fatigue and the stress of something like this,” says Williams.

Lily’s athletic career started with running before transitioning to the road in 2017.

“We grew very close,” White adds. “I’ve lived with Megan [Jastrab, formerly of Rally Cycling] the whole time, and Lily’s just down the road so we’ve really depended on each other for the balance, to take our minds off things when they’re hard.”

This will not be an ordinary Games, of course. Athletes will be restricted in what they can do in Japan, and Williams and White (along with their teammates) will only spend around a week in-country. They’ll fly in after the opening ceremony and leave before the closing one.

It’s really bizarre to think that we’ve worked so hard and then yeah, we just go do our event, and then it’s over.

While White agrees it would have been nice to experience a ‘normal’ Olympics, she is focusing on the positive. 

I don’t think anything will take away from the fact that we’re Olympians for the rest of our lives.”

The qualifying round of the women’s Team Pursuit will take place on Monday, August 2 followed by the first round and medal events on Tuesday, August 3. Since Tokyo is 14 hours ahead of the team’s base in Minneapolis, MN, US viewers can catch all the action starting at 1:30 am CT on PeacockTV or by signing into NBC.