In 2012, Amber Neben went to the London Olympics and placed seventh in the individual time trial event. Now, nearly 10 years later, Neben has been selected to go back and compete under the rings; the goal, she says, is gold.
While Neben’s focus on training for the Tokyo Games has been laser sharp, her attitude is light. Guided in large part by her faith, Neben sees the Olympics as an opportunity to demonstrate what she is capable of on the bike, as well as seize an opportunity that’s been bestowed on her by a higher power. She is, in a word, ‘stoked.’
We caught up with Neben after Team USA’s Olympic selection was announced.
VeloNews: You were on a six-hour training ride on Thursday when the Olympic selection was announced. What were some of the thoughts going through your mind?
Amber Neben: It was a fun day. I’m in the middle of a massive training camp, so it was a different celebration. I had the chance to spend it with my coach on the bike, my husband in the support car, and the Lord in my heart. I’m excited! It was the first step of a huge goal. It is such an honor to represent the USA again. The Olympics are huge. I’m stoked, but at the same time, I am also very focused.
VN: When we spoke a month ago, you said that the goal wasn’t just the Olympics, it was gold. Talk about that.
AN: I guess I don’t see it as pressure. It’s this awesome challenge in front of me. I want to set the bar as high as possible and go for it. I have one more chance.
VN: This must feel like an incredible capstone to your career. Or, do you not begin thinking that way until the Games are over?
AN: I won’t begin thinking about the Olympics as a capstone until the Games are over. Right now, I am really enjoying the moments. The process is so special. I’m not reflecting much, but I do know this won’t last forever. I’m doing my best to simply absorb all of it. I am learning and growing so much. God’s pouring a lot into me, and I hope that I’ll be able to give back and encourage others in every walk of life as a result of all of this.
VN: Do your previous two games make you feel prepared, or does this feel like the first time? How does having been to the Olympics benefit you?
AN: Because of all the COVID restrictions, I think the Games this year will be a very different experience. It will feel like the first time in that way. I do think having a World Championship or Olympic experience matters. Knowing what it feels like to step into a massive event on the world stage is different from a normal race. Having felt this and managed the steps, the hoopla, and the expectations previously is helpful. The COVID restrictions and testing will certainly be new for everyone.
VN: How have you spent the last, “extra” year preparing for this opportunity?
AN: I have been able to get into the wind tunnel a couple of times to fine-tune some of the drag equation. I’ve been able to physically and mentally dial in the focus. I am also probably more relaxed. But honestly, I think the extra year was more of a spiritual preparation period for me personally. I have been positioned better to see how the chase for the gold medal has been a conduit for Him to work inside of me. His strength has carried me through my career and to this point. The extra year has definitely stretched me and made me more reliant on Him than ever.