MISSOULA- A hometown hero could become a national hero next month. Our Athlete of the Week, Sam Schultz, defended his title at the Missoula XC pro mountain bike race over the weekend and now the Garden City's pedaling champ has got his eyes on a golden prize.
"I didn't sleep a whole lot last night. And I was a little bit nervous this morning. But I got in the groove. Once I got up here, man, the support was just unreal," Schultz said.
The hometown crowd gave Schultz a little push on Saturday and after five laps at Marshall Mountain, the local product crossed the line first again, 39 seconds ahead of second. Be he did it all with a shoulder injury that almost kept him off his bike.
"It feels pretty good. You know, I'm going to watch the high fives with the right hand, but I can high-five left-handed. If it feels even half as good as it did today. I should be fine for London," Schultz commented.
Schultz's attention now turns to the British Isles and a ride in the Olympic games. The 26-year-old's strong finishes in World Cup races earned him a spot on team USA a month ago. Then he backed up the selection by winning his first national championship in Idaho on July 7th.
"Things started clicking the last two months or so, and I'm feeling better than I ever have," Schultz observed.
He's looking pretty good, too. Pro XCT tour tradition dresses US champs in the stars and stripes and Schultz needs some time to get comfortable in his new jersey.
"You've got to do well if you're going to wear something this, I guess loud is the only way I can describe it. But you know, people have been heckling me a little bit with the Uncle Sam comments, but I can take it," Schultz said.
He started in Missoula, became the best in the state and then won a national title. Now he wants to prove something to the world in London.
"I think big things could happen. You know, having success it just keeps on making me want to have more," Schultz concluded.
He will ride for Olympic glory on the final day of the games on August 12th.