By Amanda Cairo
Gold and silver are the marks of a Vandal, but for alumna Kristin Armstrong, it’s gold and gold after winning her second Olympic gold medal Aug. 1 in the Cycling Women's Individual Time Trial in London.
“I would personally like to congratulate one of our very own, Kristin Armstrong on her gold medal win in the Olympic time trials,” says University of Idaho President Duane Nellis. “We at the University of Idaho are very proud of all her accomplishments especially on this world stage! Go Vandals and go Kristin.”
After winning her first gold in the 2008 Bejing Olympics during the same event, a second gold medal was far from a sure thing.
The Boise cyclist retired in 2009, but made a comeback after the birth of her son, Lucas, in 2010 and a broken collarbone sustained in a recent fall during qualifying competitions in May. She also crashed during the road race in London earlier in the Olympic Games, injuring her elbow.
"To come back as a mom and win a gold medal a second time is a dream come true," Armstrong said after the race, according to USA Cycling.
Unencumbered in the time trial race, Armstrong completed the 18-mile course in 37 minutes, 34.82 seconds, well ahead of second-place finisher Judith Arndt of Germany, 37:50.29. Olga Zabelinskaya of Russia finished third.
"I didn't know until I had crossed the finish line," she said in a post-race interview with NBC. "The information I was getting was it was a close race out there, and that I needed to give everything I had if I wanted it. I knew just one percent off the pedals is going to take you to second or third or even off the podium."
A true competitor, Armstrong pulled out the Vandal spirit and made history – becoming the oldest champion in a road cycling event. It’s one of the best early birthday presents Armstrong could receive, she turns 39 on Aug. 11.
Armstrong graduated from the University of Idaho in 1995 from the College of Education's movement sciences department with a Bachelor's of Science in education, sports physiology. While her dream job changed during her college years, from corporate wellness to physical therapy to working within her community to promote physical fitness, she knew there was more out there. With two gold medals under her belt, she now is officially retired from cycling, but far from done.
In 2010, she told graduating Vandals during the Moscow commencement speech to not to stress too much about the future, but take time to figure out what you want to do.
“You have a lot of opportunity when you graduate to really think about what you want to do,” says Armstrong. “Make sure it’s something you want to do; if you’re not happy, it won’t last long.”
And has winning two gold medals changed the woman who graduated from the University in 1995? Armstrong says it has changed her life, but not the core of who she is.