The gold may have eluded Kate O’Brien, but she was still able to add the next best thing – a silver – to Canada’s collection of para-cycling medals.
O’Brien placed second in the women’s C4 500-metre time trial. That brings the total to three para-cycling podiums, half of Canada’s medals, as of Friday morning.
Heading into the final rider of the time trial, the 33-year-old was in first place and still held the world record for the event. But Great Britain’s Kadeena Cox seized gold from O’Brien while setting the new mark
“The race today was definitely harder than I anticipated,” O’Brien said to the CBC. “I felt like the start was pretty good and the last half lap I just didn’t quite have it in me, but that’s OK.”
The pair of riders have jostled over the years for the world record of the C4 500-metre time trial. Cox earned the title in 2016, only to be beaten by O’Brien in the 2020 para-cycling track world championships.
The pair have more commonalities. Each is a multi-disciplined athlete, with O’Brien nearly making the 2014 Winter Olympic team for bobsledding, while Cox is shifting gears next week to run the women’s T38 400 metre.
O’Brien, a former Olympian at the 2016 games, is among a small group of people to compete in both the Paralympics and Olympics. After a 2017 cycling accident, where she found herself lucky to be alive, O’Brien joined the Paralympic team.
“It’s an amazing feeling being here with everyone and coming back after my injury four years ago,” O’Brien told the CBC. “It sort of blows my mind that I’m back on the track and doing the sport that I love.”
O’Brien’s final time was 35.439, nearly a second behind Cox’s 34.433. Caroline Groot of the Netherlands took home the bronze.