Brandon Lyons competes at the Parapan American Games Lima 2019 on Aug. 30, 2019 in Lima, Peru.
Although cyclist Brandon Lyons was thousands of miles from the States, he was able to find a little piece of home in Lima, Peru.
The two-time Parapan silver medalist was able to reconnect with family as well as finally meet a friend and teammate face-to-face.
After his half-sister relocated to Buenos Aires, Argentina with her husband at the beginning of year, Lyons wasn’t sure when he would see her next.
“Before we were waiting to hear who would be coming to Lima as part of the cycling team, I told my sister that I might get to go to Peru,” said Lyons. “I mentioned it as a great opportunity to see each other.”
Lyons hadn’t seen his sister in almost 10 months. She moved to Buenos Aires with her husband, who is originally from Argentina, after he was relocated there for work.
“As soon as I found out that I made the team I texted her, and she booked a flight that day,” said Lyons.
Just a short plane ride from Buenos Aires, Lyons was excited for the opportunity to see his sister following his race. But just as Lyons got to the start gate for his individual time trial he saw a familiar face.
“The first time I saw her was right across from the start gate of my first timed trial,” said Lyons. “I heard a loud, ‘Brandon.’ I turned to the left and there she was. Seeing her before the race, definitely gave me a little boost.”
For Lyons, the opportunity to reconnect with his sister has made the Games all the more special.
“It was also really exciting to see her from afar during the medal ceremony,” said Lyons. “I looked over at her first, rather than looking at anyone else.”
Lyons said having his sister at the Games was also a great distraction and allowed him to enjoy his time in Peru even more.
“It was nice to have them at the venue, to come to the village and have a chance to get away,” said Lyons. “We don’t see each other often, but it’s been awesome to come here and have the opportunity to connect.”
In addition to seeing his sister, Lyons had the chance to connect with U.S. powerlifter Jacob Schrom, who grew up just miles from Lyons’ hometown of Mechanicsburg, Pennsylvania.
“We connected on social media about a year ago just about being Paralympic athletes from a small town in central Pennsylvania,” said Lyons. “I just never had an opportunity to meet him face-to-face.”
Since then, the two have stayed in touch, and continued to celebrate one another’s success.
“We’re really rooting for each other,” said Lyons. “When we both found out we had the opportunity to come here to Lima to compete it was exciting to know we would finally get to meet each other.”
Once arriving in Peru, Lyons got a message from Schrom letting him know not only would they get to meet each other, but that they would actually be rooming together in the Athlete Village.
“I got here a little bit later than some of the other cycling athletes,” said Lyons. “I got a message from Schrom a couple days before I got here saying that the powerlifters are rooming with a Brandon from cycling and I think that’s you.”
Once arriving in Peru, Lyons made his way to the Athlete Village to finally meet Schrom for the first time.
“It’s really neat to have a friendship that started through social media, talking about our accidents and then meeting here,” said Schrom. “It has seemed like we’ve known each other for such a long time having a lot of similarities growing up in the same place.”
The two talked about their childhoods growing up in central Pennsylvania, and all their mutual connections.
“It’s really interesting that we’ve now had the opportunity to finally meet at the Parapan Am Games,” said Lyons. “Definitely felt like a piece of home was here in Lima.”
Lyons earned two silver medals after outstanding performances in both the mixed time trial H1-5 and the men’s road race H3-5.
“I came here with no expectations other than just trying to learn,” said Lyons. “I had never podiumed internationally in any individual events so that was definitely a goal. For me, this Games is going to be hard to top. I hope it gives me the experience and confidence that I need leading into world championships and then Tokyo 2020.”