Emma Pooley (Trinity Hall 2001)
Update: After a courageous performance in the road race, where she was instrumental in supporting
Team GB's Silver medallist Lizzie Armitstead by setting a furious pace up Box Hill, Emma came in
40th, less than two seconds behind the winner's time. Lack of a uphill section in the individual time
trial in took it's toll on her medal hopes, however, and fierce competition on the flat saw Emma's final
rank as 6th overall.
Emma has been selected for Team GB's Cycling squad for the Road Race and individual
Time Trial. Find Emma's official profile
on the Team GB website.
Hoping to qualify for: Road Race and Time Trial
Sporting hero: "Paula Radcliffe has always been my hero because running was my first serious sport and she always seemed so friendly and humble."
“I rode to school sometimes like many children, but didn’t get a proper road bike until my second year at Cambridge. I was in quite a few sports clubs, mostly to do with running, and the Hare & Hounds cross-country running club took up most of my free time. I was devastated when I sustained a stress fracture and couldn’t run for 6 weeks, so I got a road bike to cross-train. I didn’t enjoy it at all to start with, but it was a way to stay fit while I couldn’t run and it got me into triathlon. I never thought I’d one day go to the Olympics as a cyclist. In fact I was totally clueless about road cycling.
My coach, Tim Williams, was one of the founding members of the local triathlon club in Cambridge (CTC). When I got my first few cycling results, I asked if he could help me with a training programme. I had been running for years but didn’t know what I was doing in cycling.
I didn’t really get into the sport until my fourth year at Cambridge. I entered the National Road Race Championships and came fourth, which was unbelievable. I’d never dreamed of coming fourth in the National Cross Country Championships in 10 years of running. At that point I thought: “Maybe I’ll give this a go.” My first proper international race was in Brittany just after I graduated. I couldn’t believe how hard it was at the time. But it was very satisfying when I went back to the same race three years later, just before the Olympics, and won.
I moved to Switzerland to do a PhD at ETH Zürich in 2005 and for a year and a half I worked full-time in research while trying to race with a Belgian team at weekends. At the start of 2007, I spent a few months on secondment at the University of Western Australia, did lots of cycling and came back much stronger. I got onto a team based in Zürich, which gave me some good racing opportunities, and the national selectors noticed my results. We had a national team training camp in Italy that summer and they thought I might be suited to the Olympic time trial course because it had a long hill in it, and climbing is my strong point. I’m very fortunate in that my PhD supervisor is Professor Sarah Springman, and she has been hugely supportive of my cycling career. It’s only thanks to her I have been able to juggle research and cycling.
So going to the Beijing Olympics only became a possibility about a year beforehand. It was exciting because I didn’t even expect to be selected, and then I won silver in the time trial event. There’s more pressure going to your second Olympic Games because you’ve got more experience and you obviously want to perform better than last time. There’s huge excitement from friends and family. We don’t have any major cycling races here, and it would make me really proud to race for Great Britain on home soil."
Emma is a member of the AA Drink - Leontien team, sponsored by Cervélo, www.leontien.nl/aadrink
. Emma also supports Amnesty International.