Reed to focus on sprint

Updated: August 17, 2004, 3:17 PM ET
Associated Press

ATHENS, Greece -- American medal hopeful Jennie Reed said she doesn't plan to race in the 500-meter time trial when cycling's track competition opens Friday at the Olympic velodrome.

"I'm pretty sure I won't be riding it,'' Reed said Tuesday. "I might change my mind, but I doubt it.''

Reed said skipping the event is the best way to ensure nothing disrupts her training for the women's sprint competition, which opens Sunday. She'll be among the medal favorites in that event.

The time trial is only two laps around the velodrome, but Reed's preference is to use Friday as a full rest day -- which her normal training schedule calls for. She'd be a medal longshot, at best, in the time trial.

"It's just not my forte,'' Reed said. "I could go out there and do it to get the nerves out of the way, but it's just not something I'm focusing on.''

USA Cycling won't be able to replace Reed in the time trial field. The only other American woman who qualified in track cycling for the Athens Games is returning Olympian and distance specialist Erin Mirabella, who'll compete in both the individual pursuit and points race.

Reed, 26, earned the start positions for both the time trial and sprint by finishing fifth in the sprint competition at this year's world championships. She's currently the top-ranked American track sprinter, and is a former national time trial champion.

Reed won a bronze medal at this year's world championships in the keirin, which is not in the women's Olympic program.

"We didn't do any preparation for the 500 this year, and the way the competition is scheduled it really doesn't fit our plan,'' said U.S. sprint cycling coach Andrzej Bek. "It would distract our pattern. And sometimes, when you try to get two things, you can come away with nothing.''

Reed is the only American scheduled to compete in Friday's races. Mirabella and the men's sprint team will race during Saturday's track session.

Copyright 2004 by The Associated Press