Home OLYMPICS Ruth Winder on setting up the US Olympic team: ‘I have to...

Ruth Winder on setting up the US Olympic team: ‘I have to enjoy the process’

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Having an extra year in the national championship jersey due to the pandemic may have felt strange too Ruth Winder, but she will wear the stars and stripes a little longer now.

“I hope I have been able to make the jersey proud by wearing it for another year,” Winder said during the announcement of the U.S. Olympic cycling team. “National and Olympics combined are two huge goals, so it’s just really cool to reach them both.”

Also read: Olympics 2021: Ruth Winder closes in on a complex Olympic dream

Winder will transfer a road troupe consisting of Coryn Rivera, Leah Thomas and Chloe Dygert. It will be her second trip to the Olympics; in 2016, she went to Rio with Team USA’s track team, although she was not selected to run in the final against the team pursuit against Great Britain.

Since Rio, Winder has put together an impressive palmares on the way, participates in the Trek-Segafredo in 2019 and wins the US National Championships the same year. While the Tokyo goal has been ubiquitous since the last Olympics, Winder says she has also been just as focused on the journey to get there.

“I think I’ve been using things from my track experience to my road experience ever since it happened,” she said. “The Olympics are a huge goal and a massive achievement, and you can’t deny that, but it also taught me that it’s just a day and that I also have to enjoy the process.”

Like all professional athletes, Winder struggled with the challenges of the pandemic in 2020 and earlier this year. One way to learn to cope with uncertainty was to focus on her mind as much as her body.

“I put a lot of time into my mental fitness, my mental game as well as my physical, and I think it has been really helpful,” she said. “I have learned to put pressure on myself when I need it, and not when I did not. When running 60 times a year, it’s really mentally tiring, so cherry picking my mental preparation helped me get better at races where I really wanted to do well.

Another part of Winder’s mental fitness plan included knowing when to relax on the bike and prioritize having fun. Whether it’s mountain biking with his fiance in Boulder or baking a storm, over the past year, Winder has remained motivated by finding a balance between intense focus and having fun.

With the Olympics less than a month and a half away, Winder can rest easy knowing she has already done the work.

“I have tried to focus on being my best athlete in all the races that are important to me and being my best teammate I can be when that is my role,” she said. “Going into the Olympics, understanding that I have made the right steps and made the right decisions and then put the right pressure on myself to represent the United States the best I can.”

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