BEIJING, China - In 1982 at the age of 26, Barbara Buchan (CP3/Bend, Ore.) took up cycling and progressed quickly, positioning herself on the short list of women competing for a place on the U.S. National Team. Her life then changed forever during a qualifying race for the World Championships when 21 out of the 80 competitors were caught in a bike pileup on a steep descent. Buchan was the most severely injured. No helmets were used at that time. She spent two months in a coma and had five brain surgeries but she was determined to get back into sport and began to compete in Paralympic track. The longest distance at that time however, was the1500m and she enjoyed longer distances so after the 1988 Paralympics she switched to cycling. This is her fifth Paralympic Games. She has never won gold - until now.
Buchan began the morning competing in the Qualifying round of the Women's Individual Pursuit (LC3-4/CP3). She came out strong, so strong in fact she set a new world record in the CP3 class with a time of 4:31.334. Her factored time in the entire division was 4:13.860, enough for a first place finish heading into the finals.
Not to be outdone, Jennifer Schuble (CP4/Homewood, Ala.) set a world record of her own in the LC1-2/CP4 category of the Women's Individual Pursuit. Her CP4 world record time was 4:01.243 and her factored time was 3:35.514, enough for a first place finish as well going into the finals.
In the finals, Buchan was set to compete against 30-year old Natalie Simanowski (GER). She did not disappoint and posted a final factored time of 4:15.848, four seconds faster than Simanowski. The gold was finally hers, after waiting so long.
"I can't believe I did it," said a jubilant Buchan. "My accident was so long ago but I am pleased I finally got my gold."
Buchan then jokingly added "I'm doing all right for an old lady!" She went on to explain she believed so much of the competition is mental and that age should not be a factor.
Schuble competed right after and fell to 2nd place, despite racing the 2nd fastest race in her career in the event (3:36.637 factored). But Great Britain's Sarah Storey rode the ride of her life, so fast in fact; she would have posted a top six time in the Olympics several weeks ago.
"Silver is still a great honor and I got a World Record in the CP4 category this morning," commented Schuble. "It is awesome to be able to get two medals at the Paralympics and I am very satisfied with today's performance."
"Our goal for track cycling was three medals and we came away with four," commented Head Coach Craig Griffin (Colorado Springs, Colo.). "I'm really proud of everyone."
Also racing today was Allison Jones (LC3/Denver, Colo.) who posted a factored time of 4:36.306 in the LC3-4/CP3 Women's Individual Pursuit and Greta Neimanas (LC1/Colorado Springs, Colo.) who finished with 3:57.966 in the LC1-2/CP4 Women's Individual Pursuit.
With the conclusion of track cycling, the team will have one day of rest before road cycling begins on Friday, September 12. Friday will feature Individual Time Trials for the following U.S. athletes:
Alejandro Albor (HCC/Elk Grove, Calif.)
Barbara Buchan (CP3/Bend, Ore.)
Mike Farrell (CP4/Colorado Springs, Colo.)
David Lee (HCB/Cardiff-by-the-Sea, Calif.)
Oz Sanchez (HCC/San Diego, Calif.)
Allison Jones (LC3/Denver, Colo.)
Greta Neimanas (LC1/Colorado Springs, Colo.)
Jennifer Schuble (CP4/Homewood, Ala.)
Matthew Updike (HCB/Denver, Colo.)
Karissa Whitsell (B/VI/Eugene, Ore.)
Ron Williams (LC2/Hoover, Ala.)
Mackenzie Woodring (Pilot for Whitsell/Grand Rapids, Mich.)
Anthony Zahn (LC4/Riverside, Calif.)
"Friday is a really big day as far as potential medals," said Griffin. "We have the chance to pick up four or five medals, but out on the road there are so many different factors and variables it is hard to predict how we will do."
Road cycling will continue Saturday and will then end on Sunday, September 14.