By Thomas Bunn
As the 2016 Rio Olympics concluded with the US racking up a dominating 121 medals with 46 of them gold, both Michael Phelps and Usain Bolt concluded their Olympic careers as undisputed champions in their respected fields, offering vacancies for new talent to make their impression on the global athletic stage.
This brings into focus an athlete in our very own backyard who recently competed in the Junior Track Cycling National competition in Trexlertown Pennsylvania back in August.
Winning two gold medals in the team sprint and team pursuit, Rafael Solorzano, 16, says “These events were a great closing to a tough week full of travel and difficult competition against 40 of the best athletes the U.S. has to offer.”
Solorzano got involved in track cycling by way of the Connie Cycling Foundation, an organization designed to bring kids and families of all backgrounds and ability together through cycling; while promoting Olympic ideals such as excellence, friendship, respect and responsibility.
When you think of Olympic sports, typically, the first sports that come to mind are the more popular sports like track and field, swimming, gymnastics, and maybe basketball. Cycling isn’t a very mainstream sport and when asked how his friends and family feel about his passion for cycling, Solorzano said, “They love it and they give me immense support. My friends are very supportive and they think it’s amazing for me to be competing in such a unique and different sport from your typical high school sport.”
Solorzano is no stranger to hard work and passion when it comes to cycling. “I love the atmosphere of cycling and the overall aspect of getting to ride my bike fast and with friends,” he said. “With the build up to the next major competition, I train by working out in my high school, conditioning and then playing soccer for my school, then transitioning and carrying over my fitness and translating it to the bike, and finally spending at least 7 hours on the bike a week.”
Outside of cycling, Solorzano is just like every other 16 year-old who likes to listen to music and hang out with friends. His plans are graduating high school, getting into a good college, and taking it from there.
I’ll go ahead and add that it would be pretty incredible to compete in the 2020 Olympics, and if the games just happen to be in Inglewood, I don’t know if there could be a better story than that. Until then, young athletes like Solorzano will be keeping up the good work. And Inglewood will remain the City of Champions.