Para-cyclist Kate O’Brien is set to compete in her first Paralympic event, the C4 500-metre time trial, at 1:30 a.m. eastern time Friday.
The Calgary native cycled for Canada during the 2016 Olympic games in Rio de Janeiro. The former Olympian is a multi-disciplined athlete nearly qualifying for the 2014 Sochi Winter Games as a bobsledder.
After a cycling accident in 2017, where she almost died, O’Brien reached out to Canada’s Paralympic team and began competing under a C4 classification.
Going into the Tokyo Games, the 33-year-old secured two world records in the Women’s C4 500-metre sprint and the 200-metre time trial recording times of 35.223 seconds and 11.519 seconds respectively during the 2020 para-cycling track world championships in Milton, Ont.
“My first thought was that they must have gotten the times wrong,” O’Brien told Marty Klinkenberg, of the Globe and Mail.
Now on the eve of her return to Olympic sport, O’Brien is considered a favourite to medal and she does so with immense support from her hometown of Calgary, where an art Installation in East Village has been constructed.
“I’m just so happy to be back here competing for the reasons that I initially had,” O’Brien said to Lily Hansen-Gillis of Canadian Cycling Magazine. “I just love this sport.”
O’Brien may be elite in her para-cycling classification but the competition will be tough. Another Paralympian, Great Britain’s Kadeena Cox, previously held the world record for the C4 500-metre time trial in 2016.
“It (para-cycling) easily became the best sporting experience I have ever had,” O’Brien told the Globe and Mail. “I was welcomed with open arms.”