20 Jun Nelson Vails Appointed To VDF Board of Directors
Olympic Cycling Medalist Brings Exemplary Life Experience to Velodrome Youth Programs
Washington, DC: Nelson Vails, one of America’s most accomplished and charismatic figures in American cycling has been named to the Board of Directors of the Velodrome Development Foundation, the non-profit organization that supports development of the National Velodrome within the National Sports and Events Center in Southeast Pennsylvania. As the first indoor velodrome in the Eastern U.S., the facility will host World Cycling League’s TeamTrak racing as well as year round community events and youth cycling programs that promote hard work, excellence, inclusion and diversity.
No one better exemplifies the Foundation’s mission than Nelson Vails who, through cycling, overcame nearly insurmountable odds to become the first African American cyclist to medal in the Olympics. He joins the VDF board alongside women’s cycling advocate, Kathryn Bertine and honorary chairman, Greg LeMond, the first American to win the Tour de France.
“I am pleased to join the Velodrome Development Foundation Board of Directors and to lend my strong support for the future plans of the National Sports and Events Center,” said Vails. “Cycling was a powerful experience for me as a young man and athlete and it was a sport that helped shape my goals and aspirations. I look forward to helping develop cycling programs that encourage young people to dream big and work hard, no matter what background they may come from.”
As the youngest of eleven children growing up in the Harlem, New York projects, Vails became a bicycle messenger to support his family. His early goal of fast delivery through the mean streets of New York taught him how to react quickly and hone the speed needed to become a sprint cyclist. It wasn’t long before he began winning races in Central Park, capturing the notice of clubs and coaches and an invitation to the National Team training camp in Colorado Springs. Through dedication and hard work, Vails progressed to win national sprint championships, a Pan American Games Gold Medal and a trip to the 1984 Olympics in Los Angeles. His life story of how he rose from NYC messenger to become the Olympic Silver Medalist behind USA teammate, Mark Gorski, at those Games made him a national sensation and resulted in feature articles in major publications, guest appearances on national talk shows and a cameo appearance as a New York bike messenger beside Kevin Bacon in the movie Quicksilver.
Stephen Whisnant, president of the VDF board said, “We are honored that Nelson has joined our board. His own background and great achievements in cycling, on and off the bike, will help provide good counsel as we work to shape a powerful youth development program, serving a diverse group of young people in and around our first velodrome and beyond. His many achievements will serve as an inspiration and a guiding principal of our programs—knowing for certain that the young people we will be engaging through these programs will be drawn to him as an example of excellence, determination and setting high goals. He is a shining example of an accomplished athlete committing to good causes and giving back.”
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