By Quinton Amundson
Canadian Paralympic Media Consortium
Sept. 14, 2016 – Rio de Janeiro, Brazil —When newly minted Paralympic gold medal para-cyclist Tristen Chernove watches his 20-year-old teammate Michael Sametz ride, he thinks he is looking at a future world champion.
“For someone his age, the professionalism, the devotion and the talent he brings is pretty unmatched,” said Chernove. “To me he is such an example of grit too. He does everything well and is a phenomenal talent that we are lucky to have on the team.”
Sametz, a resident of Calgary, Alta. who was born with cerebral palsy, made a strong statement to back up this prediction by winning a bronze medal in the C3 road time trial after tackling the flat course at Pontal on Wednesday. Athletes with cerebral palsy that ride standard bicycles are often placed in the C3 sports class.
This 30-kiliometre competition is considered the signature event of the Paralympic rookie as both of his career world cup medals — both bronze —are for the road time trial.
“I am really satisfied,” said the youngest member of the Canadian para-cycling team. “I wanted to reach my personal best in the race for both power and heart rate, and I think I did that and I am on the podium.”
Wednesday’s 12-competitor road time trial is not the first time the Paralympic rookie has shone at the Rio Games as he advanced to the bronze medal final of last week’s 3000-metre individual pursuit, before falling to Ireland’s Clifford Eoghan.
The Canadian’s strong endurance abilities were highlighted in both these races. His time for the last 15 kilometres of the road time trial was over a minute less (20:22.25/19:19.03) than his first half, while his 250-metre split times for the individual pursuit got better and better as the race progressed.
Cycling Canada coach Sebastien Travers credits Sametz’s podium performance to the hard work in training the young man has put in with his coach Phil Abbott in the months leading up to Rio. The national organization does have faith that even greater accomplishments are on the horizon for the Paralympic bronze medalist.
“He will be a big contender for the 2020 Games and, if all goes well, he can be a world champion,” said Travers.
Sametz’s long term para-cycling goal is the same.
“I have always been around the podium in the time trial, and from the pursuit I did last Friday, I am close there too,” he said. “I think that I can be a world champion one day and that is my hope.”
He will attempt to collect his second medal of his inaugural Paralympics on Saturday in the C1-C2-C3 road race scheduled to begin at Pontal at 8:30 EST.