People will look at me now – Emma Finucane sets sights on Olympic glory

By Sports Desk October 24, 2023

Emma Finucane is trying to ignore her new status as sprint world champion as she sets her sights on achieving Olympic glory in Paris next summer.

The 20-year-old Welshwoman shocked herself when she took the women’s individual sprint title in Glasgow in August, beating Germany’s favoured Lea Friedrich in the final.

Finucane donned the rainbow jersey for the first time in competition at the UCI Track Champions League opening round in Mallorca this weekend, but while the distinctive striped jersey means she can no longer keep herself inconspicuous, she does not want it to change her approach.

 

View this post on Instagram

A post shared by Emma Finucane (@emmafinucane_)

 

“People will look at me now,” Finucane told the PA news agency. “Last year I was kind of the underdog and I just came through so now I am wearing the stripes. I hope that doesn’t really change anything.

“I’m just trying to ignore it and just race my bike, but there is some external pressure. I’m not just Emma at the back of the field anymore.”

The rainbow jersey can do different things for different riders. While many take it as a confidence boost, for others the stripes have worn heavily. Finucane said she had spoken to several Great Britain team-mates about how to deal with it.

“I don’t want to look at it (as giving me a psychological edge) because if I lose, then what?” she said. “And I will get beaten, and that’s fine. I just need to take it as it comes.

“Half of it is the mental battle of putting it on and people looking at you and having that pressure, but I’m trying to embrace it and enjoy it because you don’t know if it will happen again.

“Beth Shriever is a really good friend of mine and she’s been the BMX world and Olympic champion. She said she didn’t have the best year in the rainbow jersey because she put too much pressure on herself and she overthought it.

“I’ve spoken to Evie (Richards, 2021 mountain bike world champion) and Katie Archibald (a five-time world champion on the track) and I’m lucky we have so many inspiring women in the Great Britain team. It’s great I can learn from them but ultimately I will only learn from myself and how I deal with it.”

And Finucane believes the Champions League – the made-for-TV track cycling series which is in its third season – is the ideal place to do much of that learning, providing some top-level competition without the stresses and pressures that come elsewhere.

“The next event I’ll do in the rainbows is the Euros (in January) which is when everything is serious,” she said. “I’m not saying this isn’t serious, but it’s a nice place to be free to fail. You can try new things.”

Saturday’s racing in Palma saw Finucane finish second in the sprint, beaten by Germany’s Alessa-Catriona Propster, before failing to make the keirin final through some tired legs. But it was just the sort of experience she was looking for when it came to dealing with her new status.

Finucane will wear the stripes into an Olympic year but despite her status is taking nothing, not even squad selection, for granted.

“Nothing is guaranteed,” she said. “I’d love to go and I’m really pushing myself but I need to take each race as it comes. If I just think about Paris and everything else goes wrong I’ll not be going.

“But it’s in the back of my mind because since I was 10 years old I’ve wanted to ride the Olympics.

“As the GB sprint team we’ll not just be going there to ride but we’re looking for medals and I fully believe we have the potential to win. It’s super exciting but also super scary.”

Related items

  • USA Olympic silver medallist Kenny Bednarek aspires to meet sprint legend Usain Bolt: "It'd just be nice to pick his brain..." USA Olympic silver medallist Kenny Bednarek aspires to meet sprint legend Usain Bolt: "It'd just be nice to pick his brain..."

    As the USA's Kenny Bednarek gears up for a bid to join his second Olympic team, the 200m silver medalist from the Tokyo 2020 Olympics has set his sights on meeting his childhood idol, Usain Bolt. In a recent interview with Nick McCarvel for Olympic.com, Bednarek revealed his admiration for the eight-time Olympic gold medalist and world record holder in the 100m and 200m.

    Despite his own accomplishments on the track, Bednarek has yet to meet the Jamaican sprint legend. "I've never met him, but Usain is somebody that I looked up to as a kid," Bednarek shared. "It'd just be nice to pick his brain, know his thoughts, and see how he was able to accomplish everything he did."

    As Bednarek prepares for the upcoming Paris Olympics, he acknowledges the influence Bolt has had on his career while also emphasizing his commitment to his own training regimen and support system. "I'm trying to take some cues from the all-time great from Jamaica, but I'm also trusting my own process and the team that surrounds me," he said. "I just know all the work that I put in to help me reach this moment. I trust my coach, my technique, and everybody else who has supported me. The confidence is through the roof, and all that I need to do is execute."

    Throughout his journey, Bednarek has learned invaluable lessons, including the importance of humility—a value instilled in him by his mother. "My mum always told me to stay humble," he remarked with a smile. "I've always told her to let me know if I ever get too cocky because I don't want to change just because I get more fame or more money. If I ever get a little too cocky, she always reminds me, and I appreciate her for that."

    With Olympic and world medals under his belt and a growing social media presence, Bednarek remains grounded as he continues to chase his dreams. Meeting Usain Bolt would be a significant milestone for the American sprinter, symbolizing the connection between two generations of sprinting excellence.

    As Bednarek looks ahead to Paris, his admiration for Bolt and his own dedication to the sport serve as dual inspirations, driving him to achieve even greater heights in his career.

  • Tyra Gittens: Overcoming adversity and redefining her path to Olympic glory Tyra Gittens: Overcoming adversity and redefining her path to Olympic glory

    At just 25 years old, Tyra Gittens has already etched her name in the annals of collegiate track and field as an 18-time NCAA Division 1 All-American and a three-time NCAA Champion. Her journey to the pinnacle of American collegiate sports was marked by triumphs in the heptathlon, long jump and high jump which showcased her versatility and athleticism.

    However, Gittens' path has not been without its challenges. Following her successful collegiate career, which culminated in gold in the heptathlon despite an ankle injury, Gittens faced a setback in 2023 with a retroactive drug suspension due to an expired Therapeutic Use Exemption (TUE) certificate. This suspension not only affected her competitive results but also tested her resolve and commitment to the sport she loves.

    In an exclusive interview with Sportsmax.TV, Gittens opened up about the hurdles she faced in recent years and her journey towards redemption as she prepares for the upcoming Olympic Games in Paris.

    “It has been a process, I will tell you,” Gittens shared when asked about her preparation. “I feel like this year has been a year of rebuilding. I’m in a new body and a new mindset. I’ve never been in this mindset, never been in this body, so I am excited to see what my limits are. I think something big is going to happen this year.”

    Transitioning from the demanding heptathlon to specializing in the long jump has required adjustments in Gittens' training regimen. "My training has been different because I am no longer doing the heptathlon," she explained. "I've been learning different techniques in the long jump and also on the track, finally learning how to sprint. I feel like I’ve fallen into a very professional body, not just college."

    Gittens’ post-collegiate journey was not without bumps in the road. The year 2023 began well enough with the USA-based Trinidadian signing a professional contract with Puma but barely a month later, things took a downward turn.

    World Athletics’ Athletics Integrity United (AIU) ruled that she was ineligible to compete for six months after a sample she provided in June 2022 was found to contain methylphenidate/ritalinic acid, a prohibited substance that is an ingredient of the medication she takes for ADHD. At the time the sample was taken, Gittens’ TUE had expired.

     However, the AIU said it accepted that she had not realized that her previous TUE had expired by the time that the first sample was taken at the national Trinidad and Tobago championships on June 26, 2022.

    “She was not advised that the TTO Sample was positive for methylphenidate, or that her TUE had expired for this purpose, until November 2022, after the sample collected from her at the World Championships on July 23, 2022,” the AIU said adding that they also accepted that Gittens had no information at the time of her second World Athletics sample that her TUE application was incomplete.

    “The AIU also accepts that the medication was used for legitimate medical reasons and the athlete did not intend to cheat. Accordingly, the AIU accepts that the violation was not ‘intentional’.”

    It was a blot on her resume that she could have done without and one that was hard for her to take.

    Reflecting on the challenges of her suspension and the mental toll it took, Gittens likened it to one of the toughest periods of her life. "It was probably the hardest thing I ever had to deal with," she admitted. "I always compare it to the year I lost my brother. This period of my life, these last two years, that was definitely second."

    "After college, I was burnt out physically and mentally. I don’t know how I went on to Tokyo (Olympics) because my body was completely done. Tokyo was sheer will," Gittens continued. "But after that, I crashed. I didn’t have the motivation for track anymore because I gave it my all that year. It was challenging, but in that challenge, I found some serious guidance. I found my system for success and have been using it religiously to push myself to new heights."

    As she soars towards those new heights, 2024 has largely been good to her so far. With leaps of 6.56, 6.68 and a windy 6.72m, Gittens’ progress has been trending along an upward trajectory as she nears competing at her national championships next month.

    She attributed her renewed focus and resilience to adopting a growth mindset. "The growth mindset is just a theory that all things can be achieved with hard work and effort," she explained. "It’s about how you handle failure, how you view fear. Instead of seeing failure as the end, I view it as a new opportunity to try a new way. With a growth mindset, I believe that everything I put my mind to and apply effort towards, I can improve."

    Looking ahead to the Olympic Games, Tyra Gittens is determined to exceed her expectations and make her mark in the world of track and field. With a newfound perspective and a relentless work ethic, she is poised to inspire both on and off the track as she chases Olympic glory.

     

     

     

     

  • Jereem Richards reflects on Caribbean track & field pride ahead of Paris 2024 Jereem Richards reflects on Caribbean track & field pride ahead of Paris 2024

    "When I see someone win from a Caribbean island, I feel like I win, too." These words from Trinidadian sprinter Jereem Richards resonate deeply within the Caribbean athletic community, where a shared sense of pride transcends national boundaries.

    As Richards gears up for Paris 2024, he reflects on his journey, the unity among Caribbean athletes, and his dream of Olympic success in an exclusive interview with World Athletics Inside Track.

    Richards, a 30-year-old multiple global medallist, has become a beacon of inspiration for many. He clinched 400m gold at the 2022 World Indoor Championships in Belgrade and was an integral part of Trinidad and Tobago’s triumphant 4x400m relay team at the 2017 World Championships in London. However, his achievements extend beyond medals; they embody the spirit and resilience of the Caribbean.

    "I would say Trinidad and Tobago is a melting pot of the Caribbean. We have very diverse people and a mixture of cultures when it comes to food, music, and everything like that. It’s definitely a really great country," Richards said, highlighting the vibrant cultural tapestry that shapes his identity and fuels his passion for track and field.

    For Richards, track and field is more than a sport—it is a vital part of Trinidad and Tobago's history. "Track and field, to me, means a lot. To Trinidad and Tobago, it is definitely one of the most successful sports in our history. I try my best to use my platform to not just educate people about the sport, but to keep the people of Trinidad and Tobago interested in track and field," he explained.

    The sense of collective pride among Caribbean athletes is profound. "When I see someone win from a Caribbean island, I feel like I win, too," Richards reiterated, emphasizing the unique bond that links the Caribbean nations in their athletic endeavors.

    As Paris 2024 approaches, Richards remains focused on his lifelong dream. "This has been my dream, to be an Olympic medallist, from the first day I started running track and field," he said. "I’m just excited to go through the cycle this year and see how it turns out in Paris. I think my entire life journey builds up to this moment."

    Richards also shared valuable advice for young athletes. "Try to find the good in each and every situation. Even if things don’t go your way, there’s going to be some part of that bad situation that has good in it. And even if you can’t find the good in it, use it as an example of what not to do or as motivation moving forward."

    As he prepares for the upcoming Olympic cycle, Richards' journey stands as a testament to the power of perseverance and the unifying force of sports. His story inspires not only his fellow Trinidadians but also the entire Caribbean, as they collectively dream of Olympic glory in Paris 2024.

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

© 2023 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.