Para cyclist Mel Pemble testing mettle on pedals at world championships

Canadian Paralympic Committee

October 20, 2022

Canadian rider competed in Para alpine skiing at 2018 Paralympics


VICTORIA – Mel Pemble has traded ski boots for clip-in shoes as she competes at her first Para Cycling Track World Championships this week, happening at the velodrome in St-Quentin-en-Yvelines, France near Paris, the venue for the 2024 Games.

Pemble was one of Canada’s top Para alpine skiers prior to the start of the pandemic. She posted two top-10 finishes at the 2018 Paralympic Winter Games in PyeongChang and a year later three top-fives at the world championships in Slovenia.

However, she made the decision in 2020 to switch to Para cycling, a sport in which she already had plenty of experience. At age 14, she attended an athlete search at the Canadian Sport Institute Pacific in Victoria and was identified as a potential cyclist.

“I got my first introduction to the velodrome through that, then a year later I started road cycling as well,” said Pemble, 22, who has cerebral palsy which affects her right side. ‘’I loved it so much that I did cycling as cross training for skiing.”

At first Pemble would have been keen to practice both sports at a high level. However, many of the track events in Para cycling are often held in the winter in indoor velodromes which clashed with her skiing schedule.

‘’There was a lot of overlap, so I had to put one aside,” said Pemble, born in Lancashire, England. She moved to Victoria with her parents at age nine in 2009 (her British accent is still prevalent when she talks).

“At the time it was cycling, but I knew I would want to come back to it eventually. I decided 2020, of all years, was going to be that year.”

In her first full international season on the road this past summer, she competed at two World Cups earning three top-10 results in four races including fifth-place finishes in the time trial and road race at the World Cup stop in Quebec City.

However the track events have been the focus for her this season. In Victoria she has access to an outdoor velodrome throughout the summer from May to September.

She is excited to see where she stands against the world’s best in France. She is scheduled to compete in all five individual events in the women’s C3 class at the track world championships.

Those are the flying 200m, 500m time trial, 3000m individual pursuit, scratch race and omnium.

“I tend to go towards the sprint events,” she said explaining which is her best event. “So I’m looking forward to the 200 and 500 the most. And luckily for me it’s at the very start of my schedule so I’ll be the most fresh for it.

“I’m feeling quite prepared. Any athlete would hope for a podium but I’m just going to see what I can do and where I stack up against the competition.”

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