(L-R) Mariela Delgado (Argentina), Sam Bosco and Clara Brown during the podium celebration at the Para track cycling women's 500-meter time trial C1-5 finals at the Parapan American Games Lima 2019 on Aug. 26, 2019 in Lima, Peru.
Clara Brown couldn’t hear her parents over the crowd in the Velodrome, but their support was still present, comforting her to a podium finish at the Parapan American Games Lima 2019.
Brown has been travelling the world as a Para-cyclist since August 2018. She has long been a competitive athlete, dating back well prior to her spinal cord injury at age 12.
She may not always have the time to return home to Falmouth, Maine, to see her father Greg Brown and stepmother Amanda Murray, but they have attended every international race of Clara’s.
“When are [Amanda and I] going to get the chance to see this again?” Greg said when asked about travelling to his daughter’s events. “We have to!”
Fortunately for Brown’s parents, they witnessed their daughter take home a bronze medal in the C1-5 time trial final and set a Games record for her C3 class.
“In the last 13, 14 months… this makes 10 [events],” Greg said.
“We couldn’t miss it,” Murray added.
The 22-year-old Brown, a former gymnast who took up cycling just last year, finished with a time of 40.043 seconds, putting her in third place with two competitors yet to go, forcing Brown’s family and fans to wait anxiously and see whether her time was good enough to hold onto that podium spot.
While her family was nervous following her race on the track, Brown was nervous from the start of the countdown. She is also a road cyclist and had spent her summer focused on that discipline, not having raced track since March.
“So, I was just worried,” Brown said. “Even being in the start gate was a different experience with the countdown and the crowd.”
Her time did prevail, though.
Brown’s first major international medal came alongside two-time Paralympic medalist Samantha Bosco, who claimed gold in the C1-5 final in 39.601 seconds.
“This is the first medal with Team USA, and it feels amazing,” Brown said. “To share it with Sam Bosco, [who is] my roommate, my best friend, is awesome.”
Her parents were elated as well and cheering the entire time – as they always do at her races – even if Brown couldn’t hear them.
“I think she tunes us out,” Greg said. “I think she does.”
“We usually try to see her before she races,” Murray said. “We’ll see her in the morning or however long before and give her a wave and wish her luck and let her be.”
Clara noted how the event’s venue was very loud, making it difficult to hear them at all.
“I always look for [my parents],” she said. “This track is very loud – I just couldn’t hear them here.
But she appreciates her parents and their support all the same.
“Just knowing that they’re there – knowing that I love this sport and they’re happy, no matter the result – that’s all I care about. … It means a lot that they want to travel the world with me and support me no matter the result,” Brown said. “We’ve been through a lot and it’s a nice finish point to wrap up the recovery or continue the recovery but on a more positive trajectory.”