RIO DE JANEIRO, Brazil – After two days off from competition, the U.S. cycling team returned to action in the Rio 2016 Paralympic Games in a big way today, collecting an impressive nine medals (one gold, five silver, three bronze) on the first day of road events. Every member of the U.S. squad competed today, and again Army veteran Shawn Morelli (Meadville, Pennsylvania) got things started. Morelli continued to shine in her Paralympic debut as she won her second gold of the Games, this time in the C4 time trial. Morelli finished with a time of 29:45.40 despite warm and windy conditions on the course.
“This is really amazing,” said Morelli. “I met with my coach last night to go over the race plan. He told me to stick to the plan and ride like I know how. There was a touch more wind than I thought there would be, but it was alright. I ride a lot on Kansas and Colorado roads so that has prepared me well to ride in windy conditions.”
Not far behind Morelli, was teammate Megan Fisher (Missoula, Montana) who rallied for Team USA after coming down with a cold on Monday that left her feeling fatigued and nearly voiceless. Fisher finished with a time of 30:15.72 for the silver. Today’s medal is her second in Rio (bronze, C4 3000m individual pursuit) and the fourth Paralympic medal of her career.
After the race Fisher noted how much she overcame today just to get on the course, let alone win a medal.
“I was pretty laid up yesterday and I am not feeling the greatest today but in some ways I tried to use that as fuel,” noted Fisher. “It was a really hard race and I just kept telling myself that I am tough and I have a lot of grit.”
Morelli and Fisher were not the only Americans who added to their Rio medal totals today; also collecting her second medal of the Rio Games was Samantha Bosco (Springhill, Florida). Bosco was one of the first American riders on the course this morning and she made sure to set the tone early for the U.S. squad. The first-time Paralympian finished with an impressive time of 29:01.58 in the C5 time trial, placing her third overall.
Bosco shared that winning two medals in her first Games is more than she had ever hoped.
“Making it to the Paralympics was the cake, medaling in the velodrome was the icing on the cake, and now I have my ice cream!”
Also performing well on the road today was Marine Corps veteran, Oz Sanchez (San Diego, California) who is competing in his third Paralympics. Sanchez won bronze in the H4 time trial after posting a time of 28:51.73. It was the third time Sanchez has medaled in this event at the Games.
Another familiar face in action today was four-time Paralympian and Navy veteran Will Groulx (Portland, Oregon), who after winning three Paralympic medals as a member of the U.S. wheelchair rugby team, made his debut in cycling winning a silver medal in the H2 time trial with a time of 32.13.12.
“It’s been a crazy road - cycling wasn’t something that I anticipated just jumping right in to,” noted Groulx. “I have a fantastic team around me that helped prepare me before the race and even during the race. I am just thrilled to be representing the United States again at the Paralympics.”
Right behind Groulx in the H2 time trial was Brian Sheridan (Bay City, Michigan) who landed on the podium with a third place finish and his first Paralympic medal with a time of 33:39.74.
The final medalist during the morning session was Alicia Dana (Putney, Vermont) who won silver in the H1-2-3 time trial with a time of 33:57.48. This was a strong improvement over her fifth place finish in the same event at the London 2012 Paralympic Games.
The story was much of the same in the afternoon session as both Ryan Boyle (Monroe, Connecticut) and Jill Walsh (Syracuse, New York) came away with silver medals to bring the U.S. total for the day up to nine.
Boyle competed in the T1-2 men’s time trial, finishing with a time of 26:49.67. Upon learning of his silver, Boyle came to tears knowing how hard he had worked to achieve his goal of winning his first Paralympic medal.
“My family is here and my parents are the first people I saw when I crossed the line,” said Boyle. “When I saw them and then heard the news I couldn’t stop my emotions.”
Walsh competed in the final event of the day - the T1-2 women’s time trial and finished the course in a time of 26:49.67.
The team’s medal count now sits at 14, just three off the overall cycling total from the London 2012 Paralympic Games. The U.S. will look to add to that tomorrow when it returns to Pontal for the beginning of the road races.
Visit USParalympics.org/Rio2016 for more information on Team USA at the Paralympic Games, including athlete bios, team history and links to competition schedules. Follow the U.S. Paralympic team on social media on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.