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Quest cyclists go for Olympic gold

An alumnus and a current student of the Squamish school have qualified for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.
Former and current Quest University students are heading to the upcoming 2020 Tokyo Olympics, which were delayed due to the pandemic.

Alumnus Leah Kirchmann will be road biking for Team Canada, while third-year student Haley Batten will compete in mountain biking for Team USA.

The pair were both part of Quest's LEAP program, the school's program for high-performance athletes.

"I am very excited about the success of our current and past students in the upcoming Olympics," said Quest president George Iwama in a news release.

"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."

Kirchmann graduated from the school in 2013.

Speaking on a conference call while at an altitude training camp at the Sierra Nevada in Spain, Kirchmann talked about how it felt to make an Olympic dream a reality.

"I'm really excited to be on the Olympic team for Tokyo," said Kirchmann. "That's been my dream to represent Canada since I was really young. And I got to do it once in Rio, and so it's amazing that I get a second opportunity."

She said that she comes from a really active family, so sports have always been an important part of her life.

Kirchmann started cycling in her younger years and started competing, working her way up from local races to the national and international levels.

The Olympics has been the natural progression.

She's been hard at work preparing for the Games.

Speaking about her regimen at the altitude training camp in Spain, she said a typical day has her putting in up to five to six hours.

Hard intervals, strength work, core and mobility, and stretching and yoga are all part of the process.

"It's a big deal, and I'm really proud with every opportunity I get to represent Canada," said Kirchmann. "I think it will really hit me once I'm on the ground in Tokyo."

Regarding her years in town, Kirchmann remembered spending time in nature out with friends as among her fondest moments.

"I think the community was one of the things that I enjoyed the most," she said. "Especially, the cycling community is filled with great people."

As for anyone else hoping to go down a similar path as Kirchmann, she had a few words of advice.

"Stay focused on the process and just always think of those next small steps that you can take to become even better," said Kirchmann. "Don't think too far ahead. It really is just committing to a goal and really working at it one step at a time."
Batten will be a first-time Olympian representing Team USA in the Games, after having recently come off a streak of strong placements.

She took a runner-up runner-up finish on May 15 at the UCI World Cup in Nove Mesto na Morave in the Czech Republic. As the only U.S. rider to finish in the top eight in the Nove Mesto XCO, she was granted entry into the Olympic Games.

Before that performance, she took gold in the women's elite cross country short track race in a non-Olympic World Cup competition.

Racing professionally since 2016, Batten started 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," Batten said in a news release.

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