Credit: Rob Jones/canadiancyclist.com
Learn more about the young cross-country cyclist who's ranked in 3rd in CanadaBrooklin, Ontario // Age: 23
Emily Batty grew up at bike races, passing water bottles to her two older brothers. “I was hooked before I even started, so once I was old enough, I was racing every weekend in all disciplines,” she says. Today she’s ranked third in Canada behind veteran cross-country competitors Catharine Pendrel and Marie-Hélène Prémont. It’s just possible, though, that Batty makes her biggest impact when she’s off her bike, going out of her way to sign autographs, talk with fans, and encourage more people—especially young women—to get into mountain biking.
This year you're finally old enough to race in the pro elite category. What are your goals?
My goal has always been to qualify for the Olympics in 2012 and 2016 and to win the gold medal. Right now we have three Canadian women ranked top 10 in the world, me being the third, with only two Olympic spots available. That makes things tricky on my end, although I figure if I stay focused on being consistent, always improving, doing my best and working my butt off, while loving life, then all those other things will just fall into place.
How does being an ambassador for your sport fit into a life of training and competing?
So many people have given to me and helped me get to where I am that it’s important for me to return the favour. A lot of people don’t realize how much of this sport and getting good results revolves around good karma. If you don’t have that, you’re gonna struggle. I have always idolized accomplished people that take the time to speak and listen to others.
What will it take to get more women into mountain biking?
I think the ratio of female to male riders is proportioned to the amount of marketing each one receives. Have you picked up a bike magazine lately? I would say—just guessing here—it’s 90 per cent men and 10 per cent women. I bet if you calculated the ratio of participants in cycling it would be along those same percentages. Push women’s cycling more into the mainstream media and you’re definitely going to see huge growth.
Does racing in pearls and mascara help?
Well, that’s just who I am and always have been. Young and old, girls need to be reminded that it’s okay to be yourself and enjoy sport on every level. I have taken part in enough women’s clinics to have learned that most of us surprise ourselves with how much talent we actually have.
This interview is part of our Top 30 under 30 feature.