CHARLOTTE, N.C. – Today hundreds gathered at The Park – Huntersville, the site of the 2016 U.S. Paralympics Cycling Team Trial, to cheer on U.S. athletes who were competing for a chance to qualify for the Rio 2016 Paralympic Games. The competition was the last opportunity for cyclists with physical and visual disabilities to qualify for Rio. Sixty-eight athletes took to the course; only 18 will be formally announced to the 2016 U.S. Paralympic Cycling Team roster on Sunday, July 3.
The Time Trial was held on a fast 7.3 km circuit course, with athletes competing in varying distances of 14.6km, 21.9km and 29.2k.
“The venue and course are awesome,” said Ian Lawless, high performance director for U.S. Paralympics Cycling. “Everyone brought their A game, and everyone went faster than we thought they would. My big takeaway was that it was so evident just how prepared and focused athletes were today. All that preparation really showed, and I think those who put in the work will definitely come out on top.”
Jamie Whitmore (Mount Aukum, California) had the strongest performance on the women’s side for the day, finishing first in the WC1-3 class on the 21.9km course.
Samantha Bosco (Upland, California), who competes in the WC5 class, also had a strong showing on the 21.9km course.
“I went into this race the most prepared I’ve ever been,” said Bosco. “It was a nice course, very smooth and beautiful. For me, it was about going as fast as I could and making sure I didn’t blow up too early.”
If she qualifies, Rio will mark Bosco’s Paralympic debut.
“I feel more nervous waiting to hear the news tomorrow than I was before today’s race. I’m really hoping to make the team, to wear the red, white and blue and to represent Team USA,” added Bosco.
Shawn Morelli (Leavenworth, Kansas) also performed well on the 21.9km course, finishing first in the women’s WC4 class, with Megan Fisher (Missoula, Montana) taking second in the same class.
In men’s competition, Tom Davis (Fremont, Indiana), had the strongest showing for the men of the day, dominating the competition on the 21.9km course in the MH4 class. And Will Lachenauer (Reno, Nevada) posted the best time in the men’s MH3 class on the 21.9km course.
On the longer 29.2km course, U.S. Paralympian Joe Berenyi (Oswego, Illinois) took top honors in the MC3 class.
Relative newcomer to the sport, Jack Wise (Menlo Park, California) finished the 29.2km MC4 course better than he had figured.
“I am six months into my training, so my real focus at this point is Tokyo 2020,” said Wise. “I finished a whole minute and a half ahead of where I thought I would. I didn’t crash, I didn’t get a flat… it was a good day.”
The official public announcement of the 2016 U.S. Paralympics Cycling Team roster will take place on Sunday, July 3 at 11 a.m. at Romare Bearden Park. The celebration is free and open to the public.
The Rio 2016 Paralympic Games will take place Rio de Janeiro, Brazil from September 7-18, and is expected to be the largest Paralympic Games to-date, with more than 4,500 athletes from 176 countries expected to compete.