Natalie Wang, a 5th grader at Carmel Del Mar Elementary School, became a three-time national champion this summer in her age division by winning gold medals in all three USA Cycling Amateur National Championship events held in Louisville, Ky. Natalie won in the Time Trial, Road Racing and Criterium events.
The sweep of the three golds is a rare feat in the national stage. Natalie was awarded three Stars and Strips national champions jerseys, and the special privilege to wear custom-designed jerseys with the red, white and blue collar for the rest of her racing career (reserved for former national champions).
The three cycling events in which Natalie competed in are quite different from each other. The "Time Trial" event is a road bicycle race in which cyclists race alone against the clock on flat or rolling terrain. Starting times are at equal intervals, usually one or two minutes apart.
The "Road Racing" event is held on paved roads. It is the most popular professional form of bicycle racing, in terms of numbers of competitors, events and spectators. Races can typically be split into "mass-start" events where riders start simultaneously, racing to a set finish point. Courses may run from place to place or comprise one or more laps of a circuit; some courses combine both.
The third event is the "Criterium." Success in road criteriums requires a mix of good technical skills — in particular, the ability to corner smoothly while holding the line on the road, as well as rapidly and sharply — and riding safely with a large group on a short circuit and exceptional "sprint" ability to attack other riders and repeatedly accelerate hard from corners. They are the most common type of bicycle racing in the continental United States.
Prior to winning the national title, Natalie won three California state titles in Road, Track Cycling, and Triathlon on June 4, July 8 and July 17.
On July 31, Natalie also competed in the USA Triathlon Youth and Junior National Championships, in West Chester, Ohio. She placed 4th overall among athletes from 38 states, narrowly missing 3rd place by 1/10 second.
Natalie's motto is "Be consistent with your studies and training as a home is not built in one day." She plans to compete again in 2017 in the road, track cycling, and the triathlon nationals.