Park City Bicyclist Prepares To Chase Olympic Gold In Tokyo
TOKYO — Utahns will be cheering on one of their own, a bicyclist who will compete soon on the bicycle trails in Tokyo.
Haley Batten trained in Park City where Olympians are known to work out before the Olympics, but most of them do it for winter sports.
She grew up snowboarding and skiing in Park City, just like many kids there, but when her parents bought a bicycle and she started mountain biking, something clicked.
Batten was only nine years old when she entered her first competition.
Now, she’s 22 and one of the best BMX Mountain Bike racers in the world.
Her race in Tokyo late Monday is a one-off event and the winner gets the Gold.
Many of us were photographed riding bikes as a child, but we don’t have the pictures Haley Batten has from winning title after title in the sport.
“No doubt in my mind, I think growing up in Park City and in Utah was such a huge opportunity for me,” she told KSL.
Her Park City upbringing also may have influenced her thoughts about the Olympics.
“I think ever since I was a young girl, watching the Olympics on TV, part of me always wanted to be there,” she explained.
When Batten qualified for the US Cycling Team and the Tokyo Olympics, it took a little while for her to believe it.
“I think I was just in such disbelief, and really, it took me going home to relax and being with my family to really absorb it,” she said.
Her family moved to California, but her roots are strong in Park City.
In fact, after she qualified, she heard from her Park City High School Mountain Bike Coach, who told her a lot of young women looked up to her.
“And said they had 60 girls on their team, and when I was on the team, it was maybe, that was ten times what they had. So, to see that growth, and to see so many women getting in the sport.” After a pause, she said, “That’s so crazy.”
It was almost as crazy as the past year.
Because of the COVID-19 pandemic and the year-long delay for the Olympics, Batten became even better.
“I was able to develop really well and train really well over just that year’s time,” Batten said.
Enough that she’s now going to the biggest competition of her life and earned the right to call herself an Olympian.
“Wow! This is real,” she said. “I’m going to the Olympics. That’s so crazy and um, no, it’s wild.”
Batten’s next race was set to start at 3 p.m. in Tokyo Tuesday, that’s midnight Monday in Utah.