Team USA wasted little time winning its first medals of the London 2012 Paralympic Games as track cyclists Allison Jones (Colorado Springs, Colo.) and Megan Fisher (Missoula, Mont.) both captured medals on the opening morning of action.
Six-time Paralympian, Jones, who competed in the 3,000 meter C1-C3 pursuit, was technically the first medal winner for the United States of the Games. On Aug. 30, 2012, she defeated Germany’s Denise Schindler with a time of 4:27.793 to win a bronze medal. For Jones, who also competes in alpine skiing and is a hopeful for the Sochi 2014 Paralympic Winter Games, it marks the sixth Paralympic medal of her career.
To say Jones was excited about winning the first U.S. medal at these Games would be an understatement. Upon hearing the news that she was in fact the first American medal winner, she let out an excited scream that startled most individuals around her.
“I am so excited,” Jones said after the race. “It was great to see my name on the board and to see my country’s flag being raised. It was also great to know that everyone here was cheering for all of us.”
Fisher, competing in her first Paralympic Games, kept Jones’ momentum going in the next event, the C4 pursuit where she won a silver medal after falling just short against Australia’s Susan Powel in the final.
After leading for the first half of the race, Fisher was eventually overtaken by Powell who proved to be too strong. Powell, who broke the world record in the same event earlier in the day, finished with a time of 4:05.200, just ahead of Fisher who posted a time of 4:07.147.
Nevertheless, Fisher was incredibly pleased with her performance and excited to be bringing home one of the first medals of the Games.
“Just to be here is beyond my wildest expectations,” she said. “I could have never expected to come this far. To be able to represent my country is an honor.”
Something else that exceeded expectations for the riders was the atmosphere and overall noise levels inside the velodrome where a capacity crowd of 6,000 spectators filled the stands for the finals.
The noise was deafening at times, something both Jones and Fisher said had an effect on their races, but in a positive way.
Jones was quick to point out how she used the crowd noise to her advantage.
“I knew when the crowd got louder that I was gaining on her (Schindler),” she said. “The crowd was behind me and I knew I could do it.”
Not surprisingly, some of the biggest contributors to the noise in the velodrome during Fisher’s race were her own teammates, including Jones herself who was seen trackside coaching Fisher along throughout her race just minutes after winning her bronze medal.
This came as no surprise to Fisher who says that she and her teammates are very close and always support one another.
“I could hear my teammates yelling,” said Fisher. “It was absolutely motivating and inspiring. I could not have asked for more.”
Other action from Aug. 30, 2012:
To commemorate the one year anniversary of the London 2012 Paralympic Games, USParalympics.org will look back on the best performances of the Games through Sept. 9.