If Apple Valley’s Megan Jastrab keeps a journal, a recent entry might read: Went to the Tokyo Summer Olympics, helped my cycling team capture a bronze medal, having a good time.
An incoming junior at Milligan University in Tennessee, Jastrab, 19, alongside her teammates, took home the Women’s Team Pursuit bronze medal on Tuesday with a time of 4:08:040, beating out Canada’s 4:10.552, according to official results.
Germany’s cycling team set a new world record in winning gold, while Great Britain earned silver.
“It is an incredible feeling knowing that I am an Olympic medalist!” Jastrab told the Daily Press on Thursday. “Being selected for the Olympics was an amazing feeling in itself, but being able to win a medal and stand on the podium was unforgettable.”
Making the Olympic team was one of Jastrab’s goals, Milligan University head cycling and triathlon coach Zack Nave, 34, told the Daily Press on Wednesday.
“After watching her racing abilities, I knew Megan would eventually accomplish that goal,” he said.
Jastrab’s teammates inside the Izu Velodrome in Shizuoka, Japan included Chloe Dygert, Jennifer Valente, Emma White and Lily Williams.
Williams did not race in Tuesday’s qualifier against Great Britain or the medal race against Canada, but she was part of the four-person indoor cycling team in Monday’s opening race.
Jastrab is the first Olympic medalist in Milligan’s history. She also made history as the first current undergraduate student to appear in the Olympic Games and the first to compete for Team USA, the school said.
Jastrab and Valente will look to add another Olympics medal Friday in the Women’s Madison relay race, according to the university.
Nave described the Madison as “controlled chaos,” wherein teammates “sling each other forward” trying to maintain speed.
“I was not planning on riding the Team Pursuit at the Olympics honestly,” Jastrab said. “I was selected as the fifth rider for the Team Pursuit and knew I had a chance at riding round one, but never thought of riding both round one and finals.”
Jastrab said she had never competed in a team pursuit in competition. She described doing so at the Olympics as “nerve racking.”
“I’m so grateful that the coach and my teammates trusted me to do the job!” Jastrab said. “I’m now even more excited to race in the Madison!”
“After first watching her, I knew she wasn’t your typical freshman,” Nave said. “She broke the school’s track record in racing and even beat some of our guys.”
Barring any injuries or setbacks, Nave expects Jastrab to compete in future Olympic Games and other world-class competitions.
“She’s a natural-born competitor, and the sky’s the limit for her,” Nave said. “She knows what she wants, and she goes after it.”
Jastrab studies business and exercise science at Milligan, located in Elizabethton, Tennessee, about 100 miles east of Knoxville.
“Megan had offers from every cycling school in the U.S., but said she felt pulled to our small Christian college because it felt like family,” Nave said. “She was also drawn to our area where she can ride and train in the mountains and green valleys.”
When she’s not on her bike, Jastrab studies toward a double major, and she enjoys baking,according to her Team DSM bio.
Nicknamed “Megdawg,” Jastrab’s athletic accomplishments include competing in professional road cycling with Team DSM from Germany.
A junior world champion, Jastrab joined DSM after good results in the U.S. racing circuit in 2018, where she was “thrust into the limelight” in Europe after resounding wins at Trofeo Alfredo Binda and the Healthy Ageing Tour, according to Team DSM.
Jastrab won a gold medal in the junior road race at the 2019 World Championships in Yorkshire, England, according to the International Olympic Committee.
Jastrab told Cycling News she grew up in Diamond Bar and San Dimas, and later moved up to Apple Valley. Most of her family lives in the Diamond Bar area.
Her parents are Mike and Lynne Jastrab, the Olympian told the Daily Press.
She also said she was homeschooled, finishing her high school studies two years early. Jastrab said her mother, who holds degrees in biochemistry and microbiology, was her teacher.
“It was really nice because there was no hiding from your work. If you didn’t do the work, mum knew,” Jastrab told Cycling News. “You had to do the work and study, and that held me accountable to get my own work done. It was nice because she would let us get ahead, do more school work, so that we could then take time off to go to a stage race or travel. It wasn’t easy at all, but I loved it.”
Her start in cycling
Because Jastrab’s parents didn’t want her brother, Ryan, and her inside watching TV, the siblings were involved in a variety of sports such as skateboarding, cycling and skiing, according to Cycling News.
“Being an outdoorsy family, bikes were always part of our life. I was homeschooled so we would always ride to the park to do our classes or ride here and there,” Jastrab said. “My dad did group rides on the weekend and that caught the interest of my brother and (me).”
Jastrab and her brother also honed their racing skills on a nearby BMX track, she said.
“I ended up using my mum’s old bike, too big for me, but by the end of 2013, when I was 11 years old, my brother and I got our own bikes and started racing in 2014,” Jastrab said.
The Women’s Madison final is scheduled for 1:15 p.m. PDT Friday.
NBC is home to the Olympic Games, which may be viewed on local NBC stations for primetime coverage. The games are also streamed online at NBCOlympics.com, NBCSports.com and Peacock, NBC’s streaming platform.
Source: Rene Ray De La Cruz, Daily Press