Canadian Para cyclists hoping for another record showing in Tokyo

Canadian Paralympic Committee

August 12, 2021

Riders were Canada’s top medal producers in 2016


Four of the five riders that produced a Canadian sport high nine medals at the Rio Paralympic Games in 2016 are back in the saddle for the Para cycling events at the Tokyo Games which run August 24 to September 5.

Those returnees are C2 rider Tristen Chernove, a triple medallist in Rio (gold in the road time trial, silver in the track pursuit and bronze in the kilo), double medallists Ross Wilson (silver in the C1 road time trial and track pursuit) and Charles Moreau (bronze in the H3 time trial and road race) as well as multiple world champion Shelley Gautier (bronze in the T1-2 road race).

In Para cycling, athletes who are able to use a standard bicycle compete in the five sport classes C1-5, with lower numbers indicating a more significant impairment in lower and/or upper limbs. There are also five classes for hand cyclists (H1-5) generally raced by those with lower limb impairments while tricycling has two categories (T1-2) and are for athletes with more significant coordination impairments. Hand cyclists and tricyclists compete only in road cycling. Canada has no entries in the visually impaired events for these Games. 

Canada has additional medal contenders in Tokyo, including Kate O’Brien in the women’s C4, the reigning world champion in the 500m time trial. O’Brien, from Calgary, competed at the 2016 Olympics but experienced a major head injury in 2017 during a track cycling demonstration.

Also to watch for the Canadians are C4 Keely Shaw, Marie-Éve Croteau in T2, and Joey Desjardins and Alex Hyndman in H3. 

“It’s definitely been a bit of a whirlwind of a ride when you think that my first international race was March of 2018,” said Saskatchewan’s Shaw to She was fourth in the individual pursuit at the 2020 track worlds held in Milton, Ont., just before the pandemic hit, and a silver medallist in 2019. ‘’It’s only been about three years of racing internationally. Two, actually, because 2020 didn’t exist.”

Chernove, also the president and CEO of Elevate Airports at the Canadian Rockies International Airport in Cranbrook, B.C. is a bit apprehensive about executing his first major races since February 2020 at the most important competition in his sport.

“I know I’m strong and fit,” he told the Vancouver Sun last month. “But there’s always a question mark when you haven’t been in a race environment. I have some nervousness around that, but I have to accept that it’s not in my control and I have to make the most of what I can control.”

Chernove faces a powerful field with many world champions including Alexandre Léaute of France and Darren Hicks of Australia.

One of Wilson’s top opponents is expected to be Diego Duenas of Colombia, the two-time defending Parapan Am Games champion in the pursuit and bronze medallist in Rio. Meanwhile the three Canadian riders in H3 will keep an eye on 2019 double word champion Vico Merklein of Germany.

Para cycling has been on the Paralympic program for 37 years. While Para road cycling entered at New York/Stoke Mandeville 1984, Para track cycling made its debut at Atlanta 1996. There will be 51 Paralympic Games cycling titles up for grabs in Tokyo.

The track cycling events in Tokyo are August 25-28 and the road races August 31 to September 3.

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