Day two of the Olympics and already many unforgettable and shocking moments have occurred. While I’m not an avid viewer of the Olympic games, I did happen to catch the end half of the women’s cycling race. To be totally honest, I have never been so on the edge of my seat while watching a competition on television. With all the commentators narrating everything that was happening, I luckily understood what was going on despite my lack of knowledge on the sport. However, being an American citizen, I couldn’t help but yell at my tv screen the whole time, “YES! GO, MARA ABBOTT!” Definitely a shocking turn of events at the finish line, but surprisingly for me, not the first time in the books.
The 137 km long race took nearly 4 whole hours for the competitors to finish, consisting of five divided sections, including two mountain climbs. Climbing specialist, Mara Abbott, was ahead in second place, biking through the intense mountains of Rio. However, like the commentators said, “the downfall will be even harder than going up.” They weren’t wrong when Dutch race leader, Annemiek van Vleuten, had an upset crash going downhill, similar to the crash that cost the men’s cyclers the day before. After van Vleuten’s fall, it seemed that Abbott had a winning shot of getting gold, which backfired during the last seconds of her race.
Every person watching the race with a pinch of American blood in them were probably as anxious as I was. Entering the race, team USA seemed to be one of the stronger competitors. Not only were these women some of the strongest female cyclists, they were probably some of the strongest cyclists out there.
Abbott was 15 km away from the finish line, but you could tell she was getting tired. As she is a climbing specialist, the last 30 km did not run in her favor as she was riding on flat land, alone, while it was raining. With the rain and wind blowing against her, she had a huge disadvantage, unlike Group one, consisting of Anna van der Breggen of Netherlands, Emma Johansson of Sweden and Elisa Longo Borghini of Italy, who worked together to catch up with Abbott.
It seemed as if Abbott had the gold medal in the bag when she was minutes away from the finish line and group one was nearly thirty seconds behind her. However, the tables turned during the final stretch when the group sped up to just nearly ten seconds behind. After that last left turn, the race was over. Group one had successfully surpassed Abbott in the last few seconds of the race, losing her gold medal right then and there. Anna van der Breggen kept her back to back title of gold medal cyclist, while Sweden was second place and Italy was third, leaving Abbott in fourth place. “Fourth place is the worst place to be in the Olympics,” says the American commentators.
However, even after this unfortunate loss for team USA, Mara Abbott kept a positive and bright attitude when interviewed after the race. “I guess that’s what they say about counting your chickens before they hatch, unfortunately,” said Abbott. “But you’re just riding as hard as you can and just concentrating on that, there’s nothing else really. Just going.”