Haley Batten to compete in Mountain Biking for Team USA; Leah Kirchmann as road biker for Team Canada
Quest University is delighted to share that one of its students and one alumnus will be competing in the upcoming 2021 Tokyo Olympics. Third-year student Haley Batten will compete in Mountain Biking for Team USA. Alumni Leah Kirchmann will be competing as a road biker for Team Canada. Both athletes were part of Quest’s LEAP (Leaders in Elite Athletics Performance) program, which gives high-level athletes and performers a chance to get a great education while thriving in their sport or art.
George Iwama, President of Quest University, is proud of Batton and Kirchmann. “I am very excited about the success of our current and past students in the upcoming Olympics. They represent for me the fact that our community is made up of individuals with passions and dedication. We are trying our best every day to achieve nothing short of the best,” he said.
Haley Batton qualified to compete in Tokyo after her runner-up finish on May 15 at the UCI World Cup in Nove Mesto na Morave in the Czech Republic. The twenty-two-year-old completed the six-lap, 22.2-kilometer women’s elite cross-country Olympic (XCO) race in 1:26:52, averaging 15:32 splits over the course’s five full-circuit loops. Batton was the only U.S. rider to finish in the top eight in the Nove Mesto XCO, automatically qualifying her for the Olympic Games.
Two days before the qualifying win, Batton won gold in the women’s elite cross-country short track (XXC) race, a non-Olympic event, clocking 23:35. The two events were Batton’s first World Cup competitions. She is now set to compete for Team USA as a first time Olympian.
Batton has been racing professionally since 2016. According to USA Cycling, the Park City, Utah native is one of the youngest riders to make the U.S. Olympic Mountain Bike Team. She began cycling at four years old and followed her father into professional competition at nine. Her Olympic dream began after winning her first Junior National Title in 2012, the same year the London Olympics were held.
“That year, I watched Georgia Gould get the bronze and Lea Davison place 11th, but I could not have predicted that I would become teammates with both of them later in my career,” Batton said. “I’m proud to have the support of Specialized Racing and USA Cycling as I chase my Olympic dreams.”
Leah Kirchmann graduated from Quest University in 2013. She will compete in the Tokyo Olympics as a road biker for Team Canada. Both athletes credit Quest with providing the ability to race professionally while continuing their studies.
“I cared deeply about both academics and sport and saw that I didn’t have to sacrifice either one by being part of the LEAP program,” Kirchmann said. “Also, the block program at Quest allowed me to access training camp opportunities and attend important races like the Spring Classics in Europe and World Championships in the fall without missing any classes. These races were instrumental in helping me gain the necessary skills and abilities in my sport to compete at the professional and Olympic level.”
Kirchmann’s road to Tokyo has not been without challenges. She has suffered several injuries but says she focuses on the things she can control when faced with challenges and uses obstacles as opportunities to improve her skills and resiliency.
“I’m looking forward to doing my very best to make Canada proud while competing in Tokyo. The pandemic has challenged us all in different ways this past year, and I hope the Games can be a celebration of athletes overcoming challenges and inspiring us all with their performances,” Kirchmann said.