Former Lees-McRae cyclist, Brent Bookwalter ’06, to compete in 2016 Olympic Games

August 01, 2016

A Lees-McRae graduate will be among the elite athletes at the opening ceremonies of the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio on Friday, August 5. Cyclist Brent Bookwalter will ride for Team USA with the U.S. men’s road team. “This has been a firm and ambitious goal of mine for the past couple of years,” says Bookwalter, who will compete in two events: the Road Race and the Time Trial.

Bookwalter was the first athlete to win a national title in cycling at Lees-McRae.

The 32-year-old, who just finished his fourth Tour de France, says the race has been good preparation for Rio. “Historically, if you look at the medalists at the past few Olympics, almost all of them came from the Tour.”

Bookwalter credits his time at Lees-McRae with helping to shape him into the cyclist he is today. “It allowed me to develop as a person and also as a cyclist. It allowed me to experiment with some different strengths and find out what I was good at while doing it in an encouraging and fun environment.”

"Brent exemplified what it meant to be a college athlete at Lees-McRae; student first, and aspiring athlete second,” says Lees-McRae Cycling Coach Tim Hall. “He was one of the first to successfully prove you can pursue your dreams while simultaneously earning a degree.

Bookwalter, who majored in Biology at Lees-McRae, graduated in 2006 with 7 individual national titles. In 2010 he was inducted into the Lees-McRae Fred I. Dickerson Athletics Hall of Fame.

“The areas in Western North Carolina - the Appalachian Mountains and the Blue Ridge Parkway - to me, those are the most beautiful and inspiring places to ride a bike in the whole world,” says Bookwalter. “If I had to pick one place that I could ride for the rest of my life, I would pick those mountains.”

Bookwalter currently lives in Asheville. The Lees-McRae cycling program has received national acclaim since it began in 2001.

For more information on the Lees-McRae cycling program contact Cycling Coach Tim Hall at or 828-898-3432.

Bookwalter finished 16th on Saturday, August 6 for the United States of America in the men’s road race at the Olympic Games. The Grand Rapids, Michigan, native crossed the line 3:31 behind gold medal champion Greg Van Avermaet of Belgium. Jakob Fuglsang of Denmark took the silver medal and Rafal Majka of Poland took the bronze. 

Read Bookwalter's post-race comments

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2006 Lees-McRae graduate Brent Bookwalter. Photo courtesy of USA Cycling.
Brent Bookwalter (second from right) and the peloton weathered some cold, rainy and windy conditions at the start of the three-week race. Photo courtesy of BMC Racing Team.
Lunch is taken on the go during stages of the Tour de France. Photo courtesy of BMC Racing Team.