By Bryan Levine, SunCoast Sports
PUNTA GORDA — Amanda Carr believed her cycling career was over in the moments following her run at the May 2016 BMX World Championships in Medellin, Colombia.
“I crossed the finish line and I thought it was done,” she said. “I sat and cried with the girl who got silver in the Olympics last year.”
Carr woke up to good news Monday morning, though. The Charlotte High School graduate officially found out she had qualified for the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio De Janeiro, Brazil, representing Thailand.
“I just took a deep breath, and I felt fulfilled,” Carr said of her reaction to learning the news. “I remember what the feeling of defeat felt like after the 2012 world championships, and I didn’t want to feel that way again.
“It was weird because you go through this moment of ‘I didn’t make the Games.’ You feel empty inside. You don’t want to sleep, and you don’t want to stay awake.”
Carr’s qualification for the Olympics came in an all-too-confusing manner, and took a lot of luck for her dream to finally come true.
She said she believed her final shot to qualify for the Olympics would be at the World Championships, where the top two finishers in Colombia who hadn’t previously qualified for the 2016 Games would earn a spot.
One of those two qualifiers happened to be from Brazil. As the host country, Brazil was automatically allocated a spot in the competition so the one going to its competitor in the world event wasn’t needed.
From the Union Cycliste Internationale (UCI) website: “Unused Host Country Places will be reallocated to the next best ranked NOC in the UCI Olympic Qualification Ranking, which has not yet obtained a quota place.”
That next best ranked qualifier was Carr, who earned 17 varsity letters in her four-year athletic career with the Tarpons.
“That girl works,” Charlotte High School athletic director Brian Nolan said of Carr, who is the second Tarpons athlete to qualify for the Olympics.
“She’s gifted athletically, but she works to make herself the best. Olympic athletes are the best in the world. I’m so proud that I’ve known her since she was a freshman.”
The BMX events of the Olympics are Aug. 17-19, and the opening ceremony begins Aug. 5.