Now that Ken Carpenter has made the U.S. Olympic cycling team, he has to prepare himself mentally and physically for the biggest test of his career. The work begins this week for the 23-year-old national match sprint champion, who knows he faces an uphill battle to win a medal in Seoul.
East Germany's Lutz Hesslich is the favorite to win the gold in Carpenter's event, and the Soviet Union's Nikolai Kovche and Canada's Curt Harnett are among the others who could impede Carpenter's bid for glory.
"Frankly, I think I'd have to have a truly outstanding day to beat Hesslich, and I would have to have an equally outstanding day to beat Kovche," said Carpenter, who defeated 1984 gold medalist Mark Gorski during the track trials and national championships that ended Saturday in Houston.
"But I'm confident that with my coach, Andrzej Bek, I'll be at my physical best when I come to that," he added. "That's all you can do."
Carpenter and others who peaked to give themselves the best chance of qualifying for Seoul will have just over three weeks to get even better.
With the exception of men's team pursuit, the U.S. squad that will compete in Seoul is set. Eight riders remain in contention for the pursuit group, and the four who'll ride in the Olympics will be selected after race-offs in Colorado Springs, Colo., on Aug. 27.
Frankie Andreu, as winner of the men's point race, was an automatic qualifier for the Olympics, as well as the long team. Dave Lettieri and Bryan McDonough were added as finalists for team pursuit by a coaches' selection panel Saturday night.