Jennifer Valente’s quiet and unassuming demeanor obfuscates an important truth. At age 26, Valente has become the newest American queen of the velodrome, and the country’s latest international track cycling star.
And as Team USA heads into the 2021 Olympics with its eyes on multiple medals, Valente is leading the charge.
Valente will compete in three different events in Tokyo: Omnium, Madison, and Team Pursuit. In each one, she is among the favorites to win a medal. And Valente is now the captain of the storied U.S. women’s Team Pursuit squad and the emotional anchor of the team.
“These girls know what they need to do, and a lot of that has been because of the leadership of Jenn,” said Gary Sutton, the team’s coach. “She understands each personality and how to get the best out of them. When she speaks, they listen.”
Teammates spoke to VeloNews about Valente’s leadership during a training session six weeks out from the Olympics. She’s direct with her criticism, and serves up any critique with plenty of praise, they said. As the veteran member of the U.S. Team Pursuit squad, Valente is also quick to hand out advice and tips to the new riders.