OTTAWA – Fresh from a double medal performance this past weekend at the World Cup in Baie-Comeau, Que., there is no doubt veteran Marie-Claude Molnar is ready to lead the Canadian Para cycling team into the Parapan American Games.
Molnar is one of eight riders and three pilots on the team but is only one of two that has previous Games experience. In Baie-Comeau, she won the gold medal in the time trial and the silver in the road race in the women’s C4 category. The event attracted 230 riders from 30 countries.
A two-time Paralympian, Molnar won bronze in the time trial at the London 2012 Paralympic Games and is headed to her third Parapan Ams. She was third in the individual pursuit at the 2011 Parapan Ams in Guadalajara.
Joining her on the women’s team are Annie Bouchard of Baie-St-Paul and her pilot Evelyne Gagnon of Quebec City, and Carla Shibley of Calgary and her pilot Meghan Lemiski of Edmonton.
On the men’s side, Rico Morneau of St. Liguori, Que., returns to the Game scene for the first time since his bronze at the 2011 Parapan Ams in the H3 time trial. He is joined by NextGen riders Lowell Taylor of Lethbridge, Alta., and his pilot Andrew Davidson of Calgary; Matthew Kinnie of Riverview, N.B., in H2; Michael Shetler of Kirkland, Que., in T2 and Patrick Desnoyers of Blainville, Que., in H5.
The track events kick off Para cycling competition at the Games on August 26 and 27. Morneau and the Taylor/Davidson combo race for Canada as well as both women’s tandems. The road events (time trial and road race) are August 30 and September 1, and all the Canadian riders are scheduled to compete.
Athletes in Para cycling compete in hand cycles (H), tricycles (T) or bicycles (C). Athletes with a visual impairment compete on tandems with a sighted “pilot”.
As far as qualification for the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games, Lima provides UCI ranking points for nations. The total points a nation has helps increase the number of slots allocated for the Games.
At the 2015 Parapan Ams in Toronto, Canadian Para cyclists won 14 medals (four gold, four silver and six bronze), second only to the USA which collected 19. In 2011, Canada stepped to the podium 13 times including six gold.
Colombia, Brazil and Argentina have also been regulars on the podium at the past two Parapan Ams.
Canada is sending a team of 151 athletes to the Lima 2019 Parapan Am Games, taking place August 23 to September 1.
For more information on the Canadian Parapan Am Team, please visit Paralympic.ca/lima2019.