MILTON, Ont. – Calgary’s Kate O’Brien is an experienced athlete who decided to join the Para sport world after a serious accident rocked her world in 2017.
On Thursday, on day one of the UCI Para Cycling Track Championships, the 31-year-old made a spectacular debut in her new endeavour winning the gold medal in the women’s C4 500m time trial before a home crowd at the Mattamy National Cycling Centre.
O’Brien, a member of the Rio 2016 Olympic cycling team and a two-time medallist at the Toronto 2015 Pan Am Games, clocked a world record 35.223 seconds for the victory. Kadeena Cox of Great Britain, who has held the previous world mark since the 2016 Paralympics at 35.716, finished second in 36.653 while Jianping Ruan of China was third in 38.356.
''It was amazing,'' said O'Brien. ''I had so much fun in that event getting to know everyone and being with the team has been a real pleasure. This velodrome was the start of my track cycling career, it's kind of a second home to me and I'm so grateful to be back here.''
Also a former bobsledder – she went to the 2013 world championships – O’Brien was in a track accident at the Glenmore Velodrome in Calgary, which resulted in a traumatic brain injury. This is her first Para track competition.
''I've gotten back in touch with the reason I love sports,'' said O'Brien. ''And just to do that for the next few months I'm looking forward to it.''
Marie-Claude Molnar of St-Hubert, Que., was 10th and Keely Shaw of Midale, Sask., was 12th.
In qualifying earlier Thursday, Tristen Chernove of Cranbrook, B.C., a triple medalist at the last three track worlds and Ross Wilson of Edmonton did not advance in the C2 and C1 3km individual pursuit. Chernove was fifth just missing the bronze medal race while Wilson was sixth.
Wilson held the C1 world record heading into the day, before it was broken by China’s Liang Weicong in qualifying. Just a few minutes later, yet another new world record was set by Chinese racer Li Zhangyu.
Viewers will be able to follow the action via the free CBC Gem streaming service, cbcsports.ca, the CBC Sports app for iOS and Android devices, and CPC Facebook page, as well as the Radio-Canada Sports app and radio-canada.ca/sports. The live streaming will cover all finals. For the compete live stream schedule please visit Paralympic.ca/paralympic-super-series.
Competition continues through to Sunday. The competition has attracted 168 riders from 32 countries.
Full results: https://tracktiming.live/eventpage.php?EventId=2003
PHOTO: Rob Jones/Canadian Cyclist