Meet the 9 para-cyclists who will represent Canada in Tokyo
Cycling Canada announces the 2020 Summer Paralympic squadPhoto by: Kevin MacKinnon
On July 7, Cycling Canada announced the nine cyclists who will represent Canada at the Tokyo Games later this summer. The 2020 Summer Paralympics, which were delayed one year due to the pandemic, will take place in Tokyo, Japan, from Aug. 24 to Sept. 5 2021.
Cycling at the 2020 Summer Paralympics will take part in two separate locations—track cycling at the Izu Velodrome and road cycling on the Fuji Speedway. Track events will run between Aug. 25-28 and road races will take place Aug. 31-Sept. 3.
In 2016, cycling was Canada’s most successful sport at the Rio Paralympics—Canada’s para-cycling team won nine medals. This year, Canada has cyclists competing in a wide range of categories and events, with returning medallists and riders racing in their first Paralympics.
“Our Paralympic nominees, comprised of both rookies and veterans, will support each other in order to perform at these Games,” said Sébastien Travers, para-cycling head coach. “Although some of our selected athletes have not raced internationally in the last 18 months, they have maintained a high level of training and we are confident in their progress. We will be going to Tokyo with the goal of achieving medal performances, both at the Izu Velodrome and the Fuji Speedway.”
Here is Canada’s Tokyo Paralympics cycling squad:
At the 2016 Paralympic Games, Tristen Chernove won three medals – gold, silver, and bronze. Since then he has consistently podiumed at the world track championships and world road championships. Chernove, who comes from Cranbrook, BC, competes in the C2 category. Last year he rode the BC Epic 1000 to raise awareness for Paralympic Sport.
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“Being given the opportunity to represent Canada on the world stage is such an incredible honour,” said Chernove. “It is both exciting and daunting for my first race since early 2020 to be the Paralympic Games. Performance-wise, I’m always racing against myself and this rings even more true after such a long period of solo training. My goal is to be the best I have ever been, to focus on all that’s within my control, and to have personal best performances in Japan.”
Veteran national team member Marie-Ève Croteau has overcome many challenges to become one of Canada’s most successful international Para cyclists with multiple world titles and World Cup crowns. Croteau has raced internationally since 2011, competing in the T2 category. Although she was named to the 2012 Paralympic team, she suffered a concussion which prevented her from racing. Croteau came back from injury to finish fourth at the road race in Rio.
Joey Desjardins, of Hawkesbury, On., will compete in his first Paralympics this year. Dejardins casually got into handcycling in 2009, but after trying out some races, he began competing more seriously in 2014 and soon caught the attention of Cycling Canada. He competed at the three world championships between 2018 and 2019 and placed third at the 2019 World Cup in Corridonia, Italy.
Alex Hyndman joins Desjardins in the Tokyo H3 class races, which often have the most entries of any para-cycling division. The Morpeth, On. handcyclist placed third in the 2018 world championships time trial and finished sixth in both the 2019 road and time trial races.
Men's H3 road race #Rio2016 #Gold Paolo Cecchetto #ITA#Silver Maximilian Weber #GER#Bronze Charles Moreau #CAN pic.twitter.com/AAvj4bWSfw
— UCI Para-Cycling (@UCI_paracycling) September 15, 2016
At the 2016 Paralympic Games, Charles Moreau was one of Canada’s top riders earning bronze in both the H3 time trial and road race. A year later he won bronze at the time trial world championship. Since the last Paralympics, Moreau, who is from Victoriaville, Qc. has consistently podiumed in World Cup events and recently finished fourth in the time trial at the 2021 para-cycling road world championships.
Kate O’Brien, who competed at the 2016 Rio Olympics, transitioned to the para-sport world after a serious head injury on the track. In 2020 at the world para-cycling track championships, O’Brien made her para-cycling debut before a home crowd at the Mattamy National Cycling Centre in Milton, Ont. On the opening day of the competition, O’Brien set a 500-metre time trial world record on her way to winning gold in the women’s C4 category. The next day, the Calgarian followed up by smashing the flying 200 metre record by a massive 1.438 seconds. Her time of 11.519 seconds delivered her second win in as many days.
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“I’m so excited to be representing Canada at the Tokyo Paralympic Games,” said O’Brien. “Without the doctors, nurses, medical team, as well as my family, friends, and community, I would not have had this opportunity to wear the maple leaf again; thank you to them for all they have done. This past year and a half has been extremely difficult for all Canadians. I would love to win gold and aim for another world record, but my main goal is to send out a huge thank you to everyone who has helped me get back to this sport that I love.”
Keely Shaw, of Midale, Sk., only became a para-cyclist in 2016, yet she could be a medal contender at the 2020 Paralympic Games. At the Milton 2020 world para-cycling track championships she finished fourth, missing the bronze by just 75 milliseconds in the women’s C4 individual pursuit. She also finished fourth at the 2019 and 2018 world para-cycling road championships time trial.
At the 2016 Paralympic Games in Rio, Ross Wilson, of Sherwood Park, Ab., finished second in the time trial and in the individual pursuit. Since then, Wilson, who competes in the C1 category, swept gold in all three events at the 2017 world track championships and has collected medals at the 2017, 2018 and 2019 road worlds as well as the 2018 track worlds.
Shelley Gautier, of Niagara Falls, On., was also a Rio 2016 Paralympic Games medallist, capturing bronze in the T1 time trial. Gautier, a tricyclist who will be making her third Paralympic appearance (London 2012, Rio 2016), recently returned to competition at the 2021 para road world championships, where she won both the time trial and road race events.