American collegiate cyclists Mara Abbott and Jason Sears each received USA Cycling's US$2,500 annual John Stenner Collegiate Cycling Scholarships Thursday.
Abbott, a Whitman College student with a 3.70 grade point average, joins Sears, a graduate student from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, who carries a 4.70 GPA, in receiving the awards, based on academic achievements, athletic accomplishments and service to the community with an emphasis on collegiate team involvement and leadership.
Abbott, a 22-year-old senior economics major, brought home three gold medals at the 2007 USA Cycling Collegiate Road National Championships.
Racing throughout the season domestically for the Webcor Builders Cycling Team and overseas as a member of USA Cycling's Women's National Team program, Abbott solidified her reputation as one of the nation's top up-and-coming competitive cyclists.
In July, Abbott won three more national titles at the USA Cycling National Festival at Seven Springs. With a victory in the elite women's road race, Abbott was crowned both elite and U23 national champion. She also captured a U23 national time trial title.
In September, Abbott finished 45th at the 2007 UCI Road World Championships in Stuttgart, Germany, and is considered an Olympic hopeful for the 2008 Beijing Games. Also in September, Abbott was signed to a pro contract with the German-based Team High Road, formerly Team T-Mobile.
Abbott currently sits on the National Collegiate Cycling Association's Board of Trustees for the purpose of creating a quality experience for fellow student-athletes with a focus on rider education.
The men's recipient of the 2007 John Stenner Collegiate Cycling Scholarship, Sears is a graduate student at MIT where he is a research assistant at the MIT Plasma Science and Fusion Center and secretary of the MIT Cycling Team. He has a double major in electrical engineering and computer science and minor in mathematics.
On the bike, Sears captured an overall national title at the 2007 USA Cycling Collegiate Track National Championships and finished seventh in the criterium at the collegiate road national championships. Throughout the season, Sears also claimed eight top-five finishes in various regional and collegiate events throughout the U.S.
As a member of the MIT Cycling Team, Sears secured permanent training space for the team, organized the off-season training programs, including a 10-day winter training camp, and the appointment of a team coach.
As secretary of MIT Cycling, Sears now oversees all operating procedures and assists in the cultivation of relationships with alumni and the community. In addition to his focus on the MIT cycling program, Sears also assists other institutions with the start-up of new collegiate cycling programs.
"The contributions of both Mara and Jason to collegiate cycling throughout the 2007 academic year have been tremendous," said Steve McCauley, USA Cycling Director of Development. "Their success in the classroom, on the bike and in the community is unparalleled and their contributions define them as the best all-around collegiate cyclists in the U.S. this year."
The annual scholarship program is funded by donations to the USA Cycling Development Foundation.
© BikeRadar 2007