Kelsey Mitchell is a 25-year-old cyclist from Brandon, Man. who unexpectedly broke the 200 m sprint world record at the 2019 Pan American Track Cycling Championships at the Cochabamba velodrome in Bolivia. The name is probably not particularly familiar to Canadian cycling fans but the track sprinter who now calls Sherwood Park, Alta. home is one to keep an eye on over the coming year. Mitchell is relatively new to the sport and hasn’t even been competing internationally for a full year.

A product of the RBC Training Ground, Mitchell was recruited by Cycling Canada after producing promising power numbers in the identification camp. She transferred to track cycling after five years playing university soccer. In December 2017, at 23-years-old she began training quickly proving her sporting background provided a strong base for progression into the elite track program.

Her first international competition with Team Canada was the 2019 UCI Track World Cup in Hong Kong in January. She made it to the sprint quarter-finals eventually placing in a very solid sixth place.

“Kelsey’s result today is very exciting for the future of our sprint program,” said Franck Durivaux, national sprint coach after the strong ride. “She is still very inexperienced and has a huge margin for progression.”

Mitchell has earned her place on the national team for the Pan Am championships after proving her talent at nationals in 2018. She won the Canadian title in the sprint last year with bronze medals in the Keirin and 500 m time trial.

At the Pan Am championships, the team sprint squad of Lauriane Genest and Mitchell scored a gold medal which earns them an automatic birth to the UCI Track Cycling World Championships in Berlin in February.

Mitchell then crushed the 200 m women’s track sprint world record in Cochabamba. She covered 200 m in 10.154 shaving off over .2 from previous record-holder Kristina Vogel’s time of 10.384 set in Aguascalientes, Mexico in Dec. of 2013. Both the track in Cochabamba, Bolivia (2,558 m) and Aguascalientes (1,888 m) have fast tracks at altitude. The track in Mexico is the one used by hour record holder Victor Campenaerts in his 55.089 km record-setting ride in April.

After setting a scorching fast qualifying time, Mitchell went on to win the gold medal.

“It felt pretty great to establish a new record,” said Mitchell after setting the record. “The track is fast here and the air is thin, so I knew the record would be beaten but I didn’t know if I would be the one to do it.”

As qualifying for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics continues, Kelsey will continue to get opportunities to prove herself when the UCI World Cup seasons gets underway in Minsk in November through to January when the series wraps up in Milton, Ont. in January. The world championships take place in February 2020 in Berlin.

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