Chicago native Felicia Stancil will compete in the semifinals of the BMX competition – NBC Chicago
It’s been a strong start to the Tokyo Olympics for 26-year-old Felicia Stancil, but she wants to get bigger as she wants to win a medal in the women’s BMX race.
Stancil, who qualified for the semi-finals with a strong performance in the quarter-finals, will compete as one of eight drivers in her semi-finals.
Each run consists of three runs, and the top four at the end of those runs advance to the finals, where they may win a gold medal in the event.
Stancil finished second in their quarter-finals and thus positioned themselves well to possibly move into the final on Friday morning in Tokyo.
When Stancil hits the track in the semi-finals, fans might notice a little something extra on their helmet.
It turned out that there is actually a reason for this.
When the Chicago native found out that the Tokyo Olympics had been postponed by a year due to the coronavirus pandemic, she decided to do what she’d been waiting for the Games: she had a puppy.
And if it wasn’t already clear, her name is Daisy.
“She has helped me a lot and has been my best friend since the entire COVID situation,” said Stancil of her mini Aussie lab mix. “The training gets somehow lonely. You always train at the highest level of the sport.”
Stancil said leaving her new puppy on the way to Tokyo was no easy feat, but she left her in good hands: with her father.
Stancil and her father have long had a close bond, so it stands to reason that she confides in him with her best friend.
“My father introduced me [BMX racing] when I was 4, “she said.” My dad used to be a professional BMX racer so he knew a lot about the sport and helped me become the athlete I am today.
Stancil said she trained with her dad until she was a teenager, and then she decided it was time to grow up.
“It was about 16 years old, the year before you could go junior pro, and I made the decision that my goal was to go to a big company,” she said.
And her father went from being her trainer and mentor to being her greatest supporter.
“My dad is probably one of my biggest fans,” she said. “He calls me after every single training session.”
It wasn’t until 2008, when BMX racing was introduced at the Olympics, that Stancil dreamed of becoming more than just a pro.
“I was just like, ‘How great is that? This is my sport, this is what I do’ and I think that’s where the dream came from when I saw it on TV in 2008,” she said. “And then I just kept working hard and it was really cool to see BMX racing at its fourth Olympics in 2012, 2016 and now and I’ll be a part of it.”
Stancil is part of a historic Team USA line-up that now has a record number of women. It is also the third consecutive Olympics that the team has more women than men.
Your message to young girls out there who want to make a name for themselves?
“Believe in yourself,” she said. “I think that was a hurdle I had to overcome when I was growing up. Believe that if I use the world I can do it. So yeah, just believe in yourself and you can really do anything.”
The women’s BMX race semifinals will begin shortly after 8 p.m. CT on Thursday. The last women’s race will take place at around 9:50 pm
HOW TO WATCH THE FINALS: Watch it live on CNBC or stream it here.