Olympic Cyclist Taylor Phinney Shares His Favorite Memory From the Beijing Games

Taylor Phinney
Taylor Phinney is ready for the 2016 Summer Olympic Games. Mitchell Haaseth/NBC

Sweet! As cyclist Taylor Phinney heads into his third Olympics this summer in Rio de Janeiro, he shares his favorite memory from his first Games in 2008 with Us Weekly.

“I loved being in Beijing because I got to do the whole experience — I was there for the whole three weeks, so I did Opening Ceremonies and Closing Ceremonies,” the 25-year-old tells Us. "I was in the village the whole time, but that was way too distracting.”

“It was way too much, but it was awesome because I was so stoked that I got to experience this whole thing … You get thrown into the village and there are thousands of the world’s best athletes, fittest people, and you’re staying in, like, dorm rooms, and you all eat in the same dining hall and your world is turned completely upside down,” he explains. “The energy and the culture shock of all of this happening at one time is a lot. It’s sweet, it’s really cool and it’s a great experience, but it’s so distracting if you’re trying to do well.”

One big distraction for the athlete, who took seventh in the track cycling individual pursuit in 2008, were his neighbors: the women’s gymnastics team, which included Shawn Johnson, Nastia Liukin and Alicia Sacramone.

Taylor Phinney
Phinney of United States riding for BMC Racing celebrates as he crosses the line to win stage one of the 2015 USA Pro Challenge. Doug Pensinger/Getty Images

“We were staying underneath the women’s gymnastics team and they were on this super strict diet regimen. And you go into this dining hall where you can just get all the food you want, so we would take all these Snickers and throw Snickers up to them on the balcony, like, ‘here!’” he recalls. “It was just kind of fun, but then that was before my event, and I’m staying up until 11:30 at night throwing Snickers up to the women’s gymnastics team. I was so jazzed, so excited. And making friends with all of them, making friends with everybody.”

As for this year, the second-generation Olympian — his mom is gold-medal racing cyclist Connie Carpenter-Phinney — will stay off-site in an attempt to medal, having just missed in 2012 when he came in fourth in the road race.

“I would really like to stay in the village for my own personal experience, but I know that I need to be serious, so that’s what I did in London, stayed out of the village as much as I could. We had to stay there two nights. What I’d like to do in Rio is do my events and then go hang out in the village.”

To learn more about all the Olympic hopefuls, visit TeamUSA.org. The Olympics begin on August 5 and will be streamed live on NBCOlympics.com and NBC Sports Live Extra.

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