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Paving the Road with Gold

September 11, 2017

This article was written by Taylor Nadauld and published in the Moscow-Pullman Daily News on Monday, Sept. 11, 2017. Read the original article here.


Three-time Olympic gold medalist Kristin Armstrong may have made her way around the world, but she has not forgotten her Idaho roots. And neither has the University of Idaho.

Saturday afternoon, Armstrong's legacy was sealed in Moscow as UI president Chuck Staben announced a portion of Paradise Path that runs through the university campus would be named the Kristin Armstrong Bikeway on Paradise Path.

"For those of you who went to college with me, you probably never thought anything on campus was going to be named after Kristin Armstrong," the cyclist said at the dedication, to laughter from her audience.

Armstrong was a member of the Kappa Kappa Gamma sorority at UI and graduated with a bachelor's degree in sports physiology in 1995.

"The great thing about being a family is that when someone does something amazing, it's a point of pride for all of us," Kathy Barnard, executive director of the Office of Alumni Relations, said.

Clad in a Nike Team USA jacket and Vandal visor, Armstrong told her fellow alumni of her time at the Olympics and her plans for the future.

Armstrong has recently been accepted to be the high performance director for USA Cycling. Someday, she hopes to publish a book telling her story.

But despite the name she has already made for herself, Armstrong said these days, a success for her would be to help another athlete win a gold medal in the 2020 Tokyo Summer Olympics.

Four years ago, that wouldn't have been the case, she said. She was too competitive, instead focused on her own Olympic dreams.

Last year, Armstrong won her third-straight gold medal in the women's individual time trials for cycling at the Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, making her the first American woman to win the same individual event three times in a row.

"This lady here's competitive from her toenails to the top of her head," Moscow Mayor Bill Lambert said at the dedication.

Armstrong also spoke of her experiences in Rio to a class of UI athletes in the College of Education building Friday afternoon.

It was pouring down rain when Armstrong woke up that 2016 morning in Brazil, knowing she would have to cycle on a slick track she had not necessarily trained for.

Her coach told her, "You decide if you want to sleep with gold, silver or bronze tonight."

"I went ballistic," Armstrong said.

Rather than focusing on the wet track, she focused on her years of experience to get her through. Armstrong made history that day, but only by five seconds.

Russia's Olga Zabelinskaya came in second. She had just come off an 18-month suspension for using performance-enhancing drugs in 2014.

"If I had it my way, when you're at fault for doping, I think the best punishment is that you're just banned for life," Armstrong said. "It's really simple for me."

But when race time comes, Armstrong said she cannot let those issues distract her from her focus.

Armstrong said she never stops working until she gets to the race. She enters what she calls the "pain cave," and then, the zone, where numbness takes over until she reaches the finish line.

"The quicker I have pain, the better," Armstrong said.

About the University of Idaho

The University of Idaho, home of the Vandals, is Idaho’s land-grant, national research university. From its residential campus in Moscow, U of I serves the state of Idaho through educational centers in Boise, Coeur d’Alene and Idaho Falls, nine research and Extension centers, plus Extension offices in 42 counties. Home to nearly 12,000 students statewide, U of I is a leader in student-centered learning and excels at interdisciplinary research, service to businesses and communities, and in advancing diversity, citizenship and global outreach. U of I competes in the Big Sky Conference. Learn more at uidaho.edu