On the second day of the 2015 Pan Am Games, the two finest cross-country mountain bikers placed Canada on the podium. As they dominated the rest of its field, Emily Batty and Catharine Pendrel were more than five minutes ahead.
Competing at the Hardwood Bike Park in Oro-Medonte, Ontario (north of host city Toronto), their ability to navigate through a 5.2 kilometer track of stone and clusters of trees was no easy feat. Having to complete five grueling laps, a section of the track is known as “The Grunt” for its steep climb, while a descent filled with jagged rocks is infamously titled “The Boneshaker”.
Showing no fear, the result was a gold and silver medal outcome for the Canadian racers. As Batty, a native of Brooklin, Ontario, grabbed gold, Pendrel, who was the reigning world champion, settled for silver. Ironically, the two finished in the top two in last year’s Commonwealth Games, although Pendrel gained the gold.
Taking into account that this is also Batty’s home course, it only added to the jubilation of the victory, the first major gold medal in her career. Of note, she began racing at the course when she was 10 years old. With less than a kilometer in the race,
Batty tapped into a reserve of effort and overtook Pendrel for the lead.
Prevailing over her closest competitor with a narrow seven-second lead, her total time was 1:27:13. Of note, American Erin Huck captured the bronze, five minutes and 23 seconds behind Batty. Complementing Batty’s win was fellow Canadian Raphael Gagne, taking the gold in the men’s race with a time of 1:34:06.
Having once donned the cover of Sportsnet Magazine’s Beauty of Sport edition, Batty and Gagne were featured on CBC News’ The National on Sunday night. Currently ranked seventh in the world, Batty’s smile beamed across millions of television sets for viewers to admire as the world class racer looks to build on such strong momentum for the remainder of the biking season, including gold medal ambitions at the 2016 Rio Summer Games.