Top 14 of 2014: Team USA wins medal count at UCI Para-cycling Road World Championships
Will Groulx, a former wheelchair rugby champion, won his first cycling world title at the 2014 UCI Para-cycling Road World Championships.
From the slopes of Sochi, Russia, to the dance floor of Los Angeles, to the pavement of New York, 2014 was a thrilling year for the Paralympic Movement as Team USA athletes set the standard on and off the field of play. Records were broken. Legacies were made. And 2014 became the year to remember in the Paralympic Movement. From Dec. 15-28, USParalympics.org will unveil the Top 14 moments of 2014 for U.S. Paralympics in chronological order.
The pressure was on for Team USA to perform well at the 2014 UCI Para-cycling Road World Championships. The American athletes not only had to defend their title as the best Para-cycling program in the world, but they also had the added pressure of racing on home soil.
But they rose to the occasion as they won both the overall medal count and the gold medal count with 18 medals (nine gold, six silver and three bronze) over the five days of competition in Greenville, South Carolina.
Season veterans including Megan Fisher, Allison Jones, Aaron Keith and Jamie Whitmore added more rainbow-striped jerseys to their collection. But for other athletes including Shawn Morelli, Alicia Dana and Will Groulx, they were able to shine atop the world championships podium for the first time in their careers.
After defending her title in the women’s C4 time trial, Fisher said, “I’m so thrilled to defend my title,” Fisher said. “The competition is so fierce and it is so tight. It is just an honor to even make the podium. This has been such an amazing year to be able to represent the USA, and to earn a spot on that top step is out of this world.”
The victories were especially sweet for Jones who is the most decorated current member of the U.S. Paralympics Cycling National Team. After winning the women’s C2 time trial, Jones raced towards her second victory of the week in the road race with her hands in the air to celebrate her ninth world title.
One of the breakout stars of the championships was Groulx, a three-time Paralympic medalist in wheelchair rugby, who contributed three medals to Team USA’s haul as he won the H2 time trial, finished second in the road race and helped Team USA to a silver in the handcycle relay.
After hearing the Star Spangled Banner play during his award ceremony, Groulx said, ““Everyone out here racing works incredibly hard at what we do with being the best in the world the ultimate goal for everyone out here. To realize that at the end and to see that all of the work that you've put in it culminate with a world title, it’s a pretty fantastic feeling.”
For Team USA, the medal count is only half of the story. The U.S. athletes also recorded 14 fourth place finishes and will look to move those athletes up onto the podium at the 2015 championships and at the Rio 2016 Paralympic Games.