Mel Pemble is making sure hers will be a name to remember at the 2022 Para Cycling Track World Championships.
A day after setting a world record in her maiden race, the 22-year-old from Victoria claimed gold Friday in the women’s C3 scratch race in Saint-Quentin-en-Yvelines, France.
The 10km event – 40 laps around the track – saw Pemble finish first in the field of six racers. She was third with one lap to go but utilized an incredible reserve of energy to pass two athletes in the final stretch. The silver medal went to Dutchwoman Aniek Van Den Aarssen followed by American Clara Brown in third.
“This is so surreal right now,” said Pemble, with the gold medal around her neck. “This was a goal I had maybe in two years’ time, maybe next year, for it to happen in my first world championships – it’s been quite the day. I was very nervous today, so I’m glad it paid off.”
“I was quite stressed today, but once I was on the bike, I managed to just chill things down and trust in myself.”
It is Pemble’s first world championships medal – her world record a day earlier was set in a non-medal flying 200m discipline – in her debut appearance.
“It’s an incredible performance for sure,” said Canadian head coach Sebastien Travers. “A surprise, but I knew she had it in her. She’s been racing on the Victoria track for a long time now, she’s got some experience in the scratch race at home. So we just tried to rehearse what she normally does at home and execute.
“She did a very well-executed race, she did enough, not too much, was in the right place at the right time, and just did a masterful effort at the end.”
There are a lot of tactics involved in the scratch race, where the racers are all together in the velodrome.
“Being able to know how much you have left in the tank, how much time you think you’re going to need to catch the other person, timing your sprint to make sure you have enough to sustain it till the end,” said Travers.
“It’s not something you can coach while the athlete is racing, the athlete knows this, and they just execute based on previous experience and just that feeling they have of what is the right time to go.”
Alexandre Hayward, like Pemble a first-time track world championships participant, only experienced racing in a velodrome for the first time in September. And just weeks later, on Friday, he made his international track debut.
The 25-year-old, from Quispamsis, N.B., was fifth in the men’s C3 individual pursuit heats with a time of 3:32.580, just missing out on qualifying for the medal rounds. The top four moved onto the finals, with Eduardo Santas Asensio of Spain securing the last slot in 3:30.392.
“To be honest, I didn’t really know what to expect,” said Hayward. “Today is my 13th day on track so up until now I had only done one full pursuit, so we were going off some of the splits I had done in kilos here and there, and I decided to come out as hard as I could and see if I could hang on, and it worked out.”
His original goal beforehand was to race the 3000m in less than 3:40 and he crushed it, also setting a new Canadian record at the same time.
“I actually looked into it a little bit harder later on and saw the Canadian record was 3:38 so in the back of my head, I kind of had that as a small goal and an extra cherry on top, and it feels super good.”
Hayward, who is set to graduate from the University of New Brunswick this winter with a mechanical engineering degree, has his sights on his first Paralympic Games in 2024.
The 2022 Para Cycling Track World Championships continue through Sunday. To follow the full results, visit Paraworlds2022.veloresults.com.