Last year, long before we’d heard of the COVID-19 pandemic, I had the pleasure of interviewing three female cyclists who had been chosen in the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games cycling team. Sadly the article I wrote for a magazine on the subject had to be spiked when the Games were cancelled. Now that it looks like the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games are now going ahead I thought I’d resurrect the article because much of it is still relevant. The three riders are Amanda Spratt, Kaarle McCulloch and Nettie Edmondson and I’ll publish them separately over the next few weeks. This week I’m bringing you the story about road cyclist Amanda Spratt.
Bear in mind that I wrote this before we even know about COVID.
Amanda’s reaction to the cancellation
For context here is Amanda’s social post about the cancellation: “Tokyo 2020 becomes Tokyo 2021. Absolutely the right decision. The health and safety of everyone around the world will always be more important than any bike race or sporting event. Whilst there is disappointment that the Olympics won’t take place this year the fire is still burning and the dreams are still there. I know whenever we can race again I will be ready and motivated as ever to smash it. For now though- stay safe + healthy, look out for each other and follow the guidelines wherever you may be. Together we will get through this tough time. #tokyo2021 #olympics #stayunited #stayhealthy #staysafe”.
And here is the original story……….
Australia’s 2020 National Road Champion has her sights firmly set on Olympic Gold in the road race at Tokyo in August. Her riding style and talents are well suited to the challenging, hilly Tokyo course which includes nearly 2,700 metres of altitude gain.
Like so many athletes, the Olympic Games is the pinnacle but it’s also tricky to balance because it only comes around every four years, while most other events are annual.
“When I started setting my goals for 2020 I was thinking it was my one goal, but my coach encouraged me to think about it differently and make it just one of my goals for the year. So it’s a really big goal but I’ll also be focused on the Giro Rosa, Ardennes races, and the World Championships (Amanda was injured in a crash during the 2020 Giro Rosa and had to pull out of the World Champs).
“I’ll be pretty much following the program I’ve followed for the past two or three years. We’ve been trialling the pattern which gives me confidence that I will peak at the OIympics. I believe the biggest challenge will be the Worlds because it is six or seven weeks after the Games. I’ll be coming off the Olympic high and will need to build up for Worlds which is also a course that suits me,” said Amanda. (The 2021 World Champs course in Belgium also suits Amanda).
Amanda visited Tokyo last year in August which is one year out from the Games, so she and some of her teammates could experience the road course with the same climatic conditions. In short, Tokyo is likely to be hot and humid. “It was so invaluable to experience the conditions, the heat, the humidity firsthand, and to ride the course. It showed me how tough the race will be. It’s a hard course, a dynamic course, and will suit a rider like me,” said Amanda.
There has been some criticism from other riders that the women’s road race is shorter than the men’s race and doesn’t include the climb of Mount Fuji but Amanda dismissed this saying that the distance is just right and is exactly what the women normally race in the biggest world tour events.
“I would have loved to see some of the iconic climbs but it’s still tough and can be unpredictable, the people in the race can decide how it’s going to go. There is still 2,600 metres of altitude gain but not one distinct climb. I like that style of racing. There’s not one point where you can say that the race will be won. There are no race radios so you have to be able to think, judge your effort, which is a strength of mine. For me it’s more exciting,” added Amanda.
One of the biggest challenges will be the heat and humidity of Tokyo. “When we visited in August last year we had sweat dripping off us after just walking around so we have to prepare for water loss. Our race will not start until 11 am which makes it difficult to train and to plan your hydration. It’s part of the training for this event. The heat elevates your heart rate and you need to understand what impact it will have on your body. Over summer in Australia I’ve done some sessions at a heat chamber at the NSW Institute,” Amanda said.
Good luck Amanda for Sunday, 25 July 2021. We’ll all be cheering you on from afar.