San Diego cyclist Jennifer Valente wins bronze medal at Tokyo Olympics

Jennifer Valente, Megan Jastrab Tokyo Olympics cycling
Posted at 6:30 AM, Aug 03, 2021
and last updated 2021-08-03 15:34:04-04

SAN DIEGO (CNS) -- San Diegan Jennifer Valente won an Olympic bronze medal Tuesday in women's team pursuit cycling, as the United States led on every split over Canada in the 4-kilometer race.

"I think anytime you come into the Olympics, you want to go for gold, and today we put together some of the best rides that we were able to, and today on the day it was bronze, and we're really proud of everything behind that and what this bronze means after a year and a half of not racing and really just coming together," Valente said after winning her second medal.

She won a silver medal in team pursuit in the 2016 Rio Games.

The U.S. team of Valente, Megan Jastrab, Chloe Dygert and Emma White won by 2.512 seconds and was credited with a time of four minutes, 8.04 seconds. The time is determined by the third cyclist of the four-member team to cross the finish line. Canada's time at the Izu Velodrome in Shizuoka, Japan, 110 miles south of Tokyo, was 4:10.552.

The United States and Canada raced for the bronze medal because they had the two fastest first-round times.

The U.S. bid for a gold medal ended when it lost its first-round heat to Great Britain, which set a world record, 4:06.748, breaking the previous record of 4:07.307 set by Germany in qualifying Monday. The U.S. was timed in 4:07.562, a national record and faster than any time before Monday.

"We're proud of what we did out there," Valente said. "We left everything on the track. It's just that Team GB had a little more gas."

The U.S. faced Great Britain in its heat because it posted the third- fastest qualifying time, while Great Britain had the second-fastest time.

Great Britain's record lasted only until the next heat, when Germany regained the record as it was timed in 4:06.159 to advance to the gold medal race against Great Britain.

Germany set another world record, 4:04.242, in winning that gold medal race.

In team pursuit, the two opposing teams start on either side of the track. The winner is the team that catches the other team or records the fastest time. A team is caught when the opposing team comes within one meter of the other.

Valente will race twice more in the Tokyo Games -- Friday in the Madison, where teams of two riders take turns to race in a 30-kilometer endurance relay, and Saturday in the omnium, a multiple-race event.

The 26-year-old Valente grew up in San Diego riding mountain and BMX bicycles around her neighborhood with her brothers. Valente's father Thomas raced bikes in the 1980s, and she grew up listening to race stories. She participated in many sports as a youth, including soccer, baseball and swimming.

Encouraged by her father's love of riding bicycles, when she was 14 she attended youth classes at the San Diego Velodrome and was drawn in by the uniquely contained environment in which she could push herself.