Americans and Australians lead the charge!
The stars and stripes once again flew high, Friday, the second day of the UCI Para-cycling Track World Championships in Los Angeles. Team USA impressed as it grabbed top honours in the three first races of the programme, ending the day with a total of six medals.
Jennifer Schuble was first on the podium with a win in the 500m time trial in the C5 class; teammate Shawn Morelli followed soon after with her own win in the event's C4 category.
Morelli bested Canadian Marie-Claude Molnar to win, for the first time, the World Championship title in the 500m time trial. “It’s really exciting, a lot of people had faith in me more than I had faith in myself. I just wanted to ride a PB (ndl: personal best) in front of a hometown crowd and my family and do the best I could. It ended well for me today, it’s the best experience racing at this level at home,” enthused the reigning UCI World Champion in the individual pursuit.
California’s Christopher Murphy continued American athletes’ winning ways, dominating in the C5 Kilo event. The native of Long Beach, south of Los Angeles, impressed fellow athletes with his time of 1 minute 7.056 seconds, a full second ahead of silver medallist, Britain’s Jonathan Gildea (1 minute 8.065 seconds).
Three times golden for Australia
Team USA wasn’t the only squad to hear their national anthem ring out three times in Los Angeles’ VELO Sport Center Friday. Australia took home three gold medals in the Pursuit event thanks to races by David Nicholas (C3), Simone Kennedy (C3), and Amanda Reid (C2).
Current reigning Paralympic Champion of the event, Nicholas beat out American Joseph Berenyi, the latter who won the pursuit event at the 2016 World Championships.
After having won gold in the time trial Thursday, Amanda Reid won a second gold medal in as many days. These are the first World titles for the 20 year-old para-cyclist, who earned a berth on Team Australia only last year. “It’s absolutely incredible! It’s very exciting to be back on the podium,” commented a contented Reid.
In the C3 race, Simone Kennedy bested American Jamie Whitmore in the Women’s Pursuit race by a mere one tenth of a second – earning Kennedy the gold.
Cundy: King of the Kilo
Another tour de force of the night was Briton Jody Cundy, who was crowned UCI World Champion in the C4 Kilo event for a ninth time in a row.
With a blistering time of 1 minute 5.614 seconds, Cundy was a force to be reckoned with on the track, 0.535 second faster than Slovakian para-cyclist Jozef Metelka (1 minute 6.149 seconds) who pocketed the silver. Rounding out the podium was Australia’s Kyle Bridgwood (1 minute 9.177 seconds).
“This was probably the hardest race I’ve done so far,” said Cundy. “Getting to full race shape has been hard work, just to pull that performance out.” Crowned a total of 13 times at the UCI Para-cycling Track World Championships, the British cyclist never gets tired of the feeling. “That feeling of putting on the rainbow jersey and seeing your flag fly is such a good feeling. Hopefully I can still ride at this level and continue as I get older and older.”
Two each for Wilson and Chernove
Just like Australia’s Amanda Reid, after having reached the top step of the podium in the time trial Thursday, Canada’s Ross Wilson (C1) and Tristen Chernove (C2) also added a second gold medal to their collection.
Chernove successfully defended the World title he earned at the 2016 UCI Para-cycling Track World Championships. Chernove beat Team USA’s Aaron Keith in the final; Japan’s Shota Kawamoto rounded out the podium. “It’s wonderful. I’m always just delighted to be at this event, surrounded by so many phenomenal athletes. I love it. I really wanted to defend my title and I’m happy with the outcome,” confirmed Chernove.
For his part, Wilson faced off against – and triumphed over - American William Lister; the bronze medal went to Australia’s Darcy Thompson.