Para cyclist Keely Shaw happy to be on the road again

Canadian Paralympic Committee

May 11, 2022

Great start to season is encouraging for Paralympic medallist


ELZACH, Germany – Nestled at the edge of the Black Forest in a picturesque German valley with the team hotel overseeing a castle, Para cyclist Keely Shaw is already drawing inspiration for the second World Cup stop which gets underway here on Thursday.

Shaw, who won Canada’s first medal at the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games with a bronze in the pursuit event on the track, is looking to continue a hot start on the road circuit. She earned a silver in the time trial and bronze in the road race in the women’s C4 classification at the season-opening event last weekend in Ostend, Belgium.

They were her best-ever international road race results.

“It’s been so long since I had a regular race season that it’s hard to evaluate that performance,” said the 27-year-old from Midale, Sask., in her fifth year with the national team. “From a time perspective it was one of my better showings, but I also have to keep in mind that the field wasn’t quite as deep as it has been in other years.

“So, I’m trying not to get too excited.”

What is exciting is the gradual return to normalcy for the Para cyclists. The competition circuit is back on with regular events and includes a World Cup stop later this summer in Quebec City as well as the road world championships in August, set to be hosted on home soil in Baie-Comeau, Que.

“It feels so good,” said Shaw, also currently pursuing her PhD in exercise science and nutrition. “In the cold, dark Saskatchewan winter it’s hard to get motivated sometimes. It’s great to be back with the team and see people I haven’t seen in two years and remember why I love this sport.

“As much as I love training it’s the competition and the races and getting to see how I stack up against the best in the world that gets me pumped.”

As a youngster, Shaw was determined to compete at the Olympics as a member of the women’s national hockey team. In 2009, a horse-riding accident caused partial paralysis on her left side. She was left with 60 to 70 per cent function in her leg and lower body and she realized a hockey career wasn’t in the cards.

She started training for cycling in 2016 and entered her first race in Moose Jaw in 2017. Fueled by the high intensity competition, she was already at her first track world championships in March 2018.

Now a young veteran, she experimented with different elements this off-season in order to help her gain those valuable tenths, hundredths, even thousandths of a second in the world of bike racing.

“We’ve done a lot of aerodynamics testing on both my road and track bikes,” Shaw said. “We found a different helmet that’s helping in that area. We did a lot of work on my position on the bike to make me as powerful as possible while being as aerodynamic as possible. Just so I can get to that finish line a little bit quicker.”

There was also a search for a new road bike, but with supply issues caused by the pandemic that process is delayed. However, she admits she was quite pleased with her ‘old’ bike last weekend.

On Friday, that bike and Shaw will face a new challenge in the time trial. It is a direct 18 kilometre climb.

“I’ve never done this style of race before,” said Saskatchewan’s female athlete of the year for 2021. “Pacing is going to be very important so I’m really focusing on that. I’m also excited for the road race. I tend to get dropped by the pack but in Belgium I was able to hang on for 60 of the 80 kilometres.

“So I want to build on that and perhaps hang on with the pack for the whole race.”

Canada is fielding an 11-member team in this portion of the World Cups including world champions Marie-Claude Molnar of Longueil, Que., and Shelley Gautier of Toronto.


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