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Batten 'embracing the chaos' as Typhoon Nepartak heads for Olympics

Haley Batten was third in the Albstadt World Cup 2021
Haley Batten was third in the Albstadt World Cup 2021 (Image credit: Getty Images Sport)

The athletes at the Tokyo Olympics have been punished in the opening week by high temperatures and humidity, but that will all change on Tuesday with the arrival of Typhoon Nepartak the latest hiccup in the pandemic Games.

The storm is expected to make landfall during the women's mountain bike event in Izu, but American Haley Batten said she's "embracing the chaos".

Batten, 22, was twice a medalist at the MTB World Cups this season and is an outside favourite for the medals on Tuesday. The storm was not in the playbook as Team USA trained over the past week on the course, but Batten is taking the forecast in stride.

"A typhoon can definitely throw a curveball but I think that that's what a part of it is. We're not training for a certain scenario. We are training adaptability and training our mind to be ready for that as well," Batten said.

"It definitely makes the event even more exciting, so I'm just embracing the chaos."

The Japan Meteorological Agency predicts 120mm of rain for the region around Izu (4.7 inches) and high winds, although the worst of the storm is expected to be north of Tokyo.

The rain will make an already challenging course even more tricky.

"It's technical, it has speed climbs, it's definitely one of a kind, both uphill and downhill, very demanding for the athletes. I've had a few days on the course and I'm having a blast on it," Batten said.

"You can see in everybody's photos on Instagram, there are some insane rock gardens and definitely some big major features but we all, as mountain bikers, prepare to be technically as good as possible, so for us it really gives us a challenge without being too technical. It's very rideable and flows really well."

After a breakthrough early season with the silver medal in Nove Mesto and bronze in Albstadt, Batten has ambition and confidence ahead of Tuesday's race.

"Early this season I surprised myself with my ability to race for the podium. That definitely motivated me and gave me a glimpse of what I'm capable of.

"The Olympics is definitely about performance and trying to race for a medal and that's what I'm here to do."

Laura Weislo has been with Cyclingnews since 2006 after making a switch from a career in science. As Deputy Editor, she coordinates coverage for North American events and global news.