Most athletes become interested in a particular sport early in their childhood.

As they get older they yearn to perfect the way they play the sport. For senior Michelle Smith, her cycling career did not start that way at all ? but now she is one of the best in the country.

Throughout her years in high school, Smith devoted her athletic career to cross-country as well as competing on her high school track team.

After a successful four years of running in high school she decided to continue her athletic career at UR. Although her athletic career at UR included track and field, it wasn?t exactly her main focus.

Due to her many years as a dedicated runner, she started to develop a stress fracture in her leg. The fracture was serious enough that it forced her to undergo months of rehabilitation before she was able to continue running.

This is when her cycling career began.

?The rehab for my stress fracture was what really changed my athletic pathway,?Smith said. ?Although my father does a lot of cycling, most of my dedication came from within.?

Her career became success almost immediately. She completed her first Century race when she was 18 years old. A Century race consists of cycling 100 miles through rigorous terrain and weather.

She continued racing competitively in the Empire State Games where she earned a total of eight medals ? four of which were gold.

At UR, Smith races with the multi-sport Club team, which competes at a Div. II level.

The team travels all across the country competing against such schools as Tufts College, Penn State University, University of Vermont and the Army. While competing for UR she has racked up numerous victories and awards.

In 1999, She placed second at the Div. II Road National Championships in Greenville, S.C.

She followed that performance with a victory in the 2000 Championships in Athens, Ohio. Her victory made her the No. 1 cyclist in the country for the under-23 bracket.

Later this year Smith will travel to the Olympic Training site in Colorado Springs, Colo. to try and defend her title.

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