Kate O’Brien takes silver on day one of 2022 Para Cycling Track World Championships

Canadian Paralympic Committee

October 20, 2022

Mel Pemble secures world record in 200m and fourth in time trial in debut


Photo: Jean Baptiste Benavent/Cycling Canada

A few days ago, Kate O’Brien wasn’t sure she would even be able to compete at the 2022 Para Cycling Track World Championships.

But after being given the all-clear following a bout of COVID, the 34-year-old Canadian track star took to the velodrome in Saint-Quentin-en-Yvelines, France on Thursday and laid down a silver medal performance.

The defending women’s C4 500m time trial world champion from January 2020, she ultimately matched her finish from the Tokyo Paralympic Games with second place.

After qualifying in second position, O’Brien maintained that spot in the finals. With a time of 37.344 she finished behind Brit Kadeena Cox, a multiple Paralympic Games champion including in this event in Tokyo. Cox completed the 500m in 35.660.

Rounding out the podium was Anna Grace Taylor of New Zealand with a time of 38.907 seconds.

“It’s a bit hard for me, as I’m sure for a lot of people who are competitive, to think that actually this was a better performance than I would have thought based on the last couple of days,” said O’Brien, from Calgary. “So at first, I was like, silver is great but that’s not what I wanted. And coming in as world champion, you want to defend that.

“But when I take a step back and our coach Sebastien [Travers] and all of our staff, they were like, you realize you weren’t even going to race today maybe. So yes okay, I’m happy with that.”

Canada’s head coach Sebastien Travers reiterates that message.

“For Kate, second place, which is amazing but what’s even more amazing is she’s been a little sick the past couple days so just seeing her on the bike racing today is an achievement on its own.” 

A Rio 2016 Olympian, a serious cycling crash in 2017 saw her make the switch to Para cycling. Her gold medal at the 2020 Para Cycling Track World Championships was her grand entrance, followed by silver at her first Paralympic Games last summer.

Mel Pemble of Victoria was the other Canadian in action Thursday, debuting at her first Para cycling world championships. The former Para alpine skier – she raced at the 2018 Paralympic Winter Games – announced her presence with a bang, setting a new world record of 12.666 seconds in the women’s C3 flying 200m. The event was not a medal event but instead counts towards the omnium, which combines results from multiple races.

“This is completely amazing and so unexpected,” said Pemble of the world record. “It was my main event coming in along with the 500 so to be able to perform on the day and have such an amazing debut, I’m at a loss for words. I keep thinking about it, oh my goodness, I’m a world record holder.”

In the women’s C3 500m time trial, 22-year-old Pemble finished fourth with a time of 40.575.

“Starting with Mel’s world record, that was impressive just to be able to witness that,” said Travers. “It’s always nice to have a Canadian name against a world record so that’s amazing for Mel.

“Her 500 was good, she finished fourth overall, top eight for her, so that’s amazing for her as well. It’s her first world championships, a bit of a small mistake at the start that we can correct but definitely we know we’re in the game for a medal in the long run.

“This is the first world championships since the pandemic started so we now get a better sense of who’s where and which nations to watch over the next few years.”

Action will continue at the 2022 Para Cycling Track World Championships on Friday. The competition runs through Sunday. To follow the full results, visit Paraworlds2022.veloresults.com.

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