The road to the Rio Olympics is paved in hard work, ample sweat and fierce motivation, and Canadian mountain biker Emily Batty, 28, was totally game. "I do remember my first win," the Red Bull athlete told Hello! at the Academy of Lions gym in Toronto, recalling a local race that used to pit cyclists of all ages and sexes against one another. "After coming across the line in first position when I was 11, I was totally hooked from then on."
Here, the Brooklin, Ont. "farm girl" chats about how mountain cycling is changing, the strength of female athletes, sharing her experiences with fans and advice for young athletes.
So how did a young girl get into what was then a male-dominated and very rugged sport? "I have two older brothers that actually introduced the sport to my family and right from the get-go my mom and dad were on board and super supportive," she explains. Having her family behind her saw Emily climbing the ranks to Team Canada at the London and Rio Olympics, gold at the 2015 Pan Am games and numerous international World Cups.
She marvels at how significantly the sport has changed, with more women than ever saddling up to race through unpredictable terrain - and the growing interest in mountain biking means more young fans with whom Emily can share her experiences and help to motivate. "The best thing about being an Olympian is this road that I'm able to be on, first of all, and then share with everybody on social media and in person."
The hardest thing about being an Olympian? You'll have to watch the video to find out...
From our sister brand FLARE: What it's really like to be an Olympic mountain biker