RIO DE JANEIRO, Brazil – A tired Tristen Chernove took a shot at gold and rode away with the bronze medal in the Men’s C1-2-3 1000m Time Trial at the Rio Velodrome Saturday.
Chernove posted a time of 1:14.716 to collect his second cycling medal of the Games, though he did not feel at his best going into the event.
On Thursday, Chernove placed second in the Men’s C2 3000m Individual pursuit. One day later he won the bronze even though he believes he could have done better.
“I was really nervous about even getting on my bike, to be truthful, because I am so tired today from lack of sleep,” he said. “I was really doubting myself because I wasn’t able to be mentally here and focused right now. I was just happy to stay safe and not crash on the bike.
“I got through the ride and now got a medal which was wonderful, but I am far from riding at my performance level right now, so I have to get back on top with what I am capable of doing here. I can be riding much faster.”
As the race started, the 40-year-old was feeling sub-optimal and said all he could do was get ready and trust in himself.
“Even though I don’t feel good at all right now, I just trusted that all that training, all the work that the coaches have done with me, all the muscle memory would pay off, and I would get a decent ride out of it,” he said. “Which I did do, but not nearly my best.”
The Cranbrook, B.C. resident was the 24th of 26 riders in the event and posted the fastest time – a Paralympic record – up until then. All he could do was sit back and watch as Li Zhang Yu flew around the Velodrome in a time of 1:11.937, setting a world record in the process.
When Chernove was diagnosed with Charcot-Marie-Tooth disease (a degenerative condition of the lower legs) in 2009, becoming a medal winning Paralympian was not on his radar.
“I thought about cycling to try to delay the degeneration as much as possible because it is something I loved,” he said. “It’s my passion to being on a bike that got me to this level and I keep reminding myself that when it is tough, like on days like today, that riding bikes is glorious.
“Those little reminders are helpful, but I didn’t think about competition at this level at all, so it’s just a wonderful gift that it’s happened.”
At the end of the day, Chernove’s performance was enough to win him a bronze medal, and he said that when standing on the podium he would be thinking of those closest to him.
“I’m going to be thinking about my daughter, Bronwyn, because after the podium yesterday, my youngest daughter had asked for a silver hair pom-pom, so the pom-pom today is for Bronwyn, the older sister.”