I’m pulling together a series looking at some of the women who’ll be racing on the road in the 2016 Rio Paralympics. So far I’ve looked at the Tandem riders and C1-3 bike riders – and now it’s time for the C4-5 riders.
The bike riders are the biggest Paralympic cycling category, and there are 5 levels, with C1 being the riders whose disabilites impact their cycling the most, and C5 the least. There are a mix of visible and invisible disabilities within the same category – and different disabilities impact cycling in different ways – for example, a rider who can’t grip as hard, or pull on the bars, could find the climbing hard than a rider with a prosthetic etc. Bikes may be modified to help riders in different ways, too.
Let’s look at the riders
Katell Alençon, C4, France
Most of the Road riders have also ridden Track, but not French woman Alençon. It’s strange, seeing how strong France are in the able-bodied Olympics, that they’re not developing Paracyclists as well, but Alonçon is bucking that treand. It’s her first Games at 28, and although she started cycling aged 5, she started off as a wheelchair racer before moving to racing bikes
Samantha Bosco, C5, USA
Bosco had ridden Mountain bikes, before limb-lengthening surgery as a child left her with a range of leg and foot issues. She nearly didn’t make it to her first Paralympics in Rio after injuries from being hit by a car in 2015 kept her out of training – and the medical bills caused her real problems, so she set up a crowd-funder to help pay for her husband to come to Rio, which you can still contribute to. But she’s here, and won Bronze in the C5 Individual Pursuit on the Track, and came 10th in the C4-5 500m.
She is great at social media, and has a blog on her website, including her biography., as well as her instagram, twitter and her facebook, and you can find out more about her on this profile by Rocktape. Video including her winning the Paracycling at the Winston-Salem Classic, and her Road To Rio story.
Kerstin Brachtendorf, C5, Germany
She was 8th in the Individual Pursuit, and will race the ITT and Road Race. She’s raced on the road in Able-bodied bike races with the German team Maxx-Solar Cycling, and there’s a mini profile of her on the German Paralympic site.
Video about her road to London
Nicole Clermont, C5, Canada
We talk a lot about the Paralympics and Olympics inspiring children, but in Clermont’s case, there’s a specific number – the 560 children in the Québec primary school where she’s the head teacher
At 55, she’s one of the oldest Paralympians – have a look at her cycling history on the Canadian Paralympics website, watch this little Radio Canada video (scroll down for it) and follow her on twitter.
Kadeena Cox, C4, Great Britain
At her first Paralympic Games, Kadeena Cox has already made history, becoming the first British athlete to win a medal in two sports at the same Paralympics since 1988, after she added 500m gold to her Athletics 100m bronze – and she still has the Cycling Road Race, and the 400m and 4 x 100m Relay in Athletics. She’s got a tough programme, but she says that as her Multiple Sclerosis is degenerative, she wants to achieve as much as she can, while she’s still able. She had dreamed of racing athletics in the able-bodied Olympics, until she was diagnosed first with a stroke, then with MS, in 2014 – but she’s already become World Champion on the athletics and cycling tracks.
She’s captured the imagination of the British media with her open personality, and you can find some videos and articles about Cox before Rio – on the BBC Sports site, and a much more light-hearted on, in Nikki Fox’s car share. Follow her on twitter – and she has some videos she made on her YouTube. Here’s a British Cycling profile:
Mariela Delgado, C5, Argentina
She made history last year, becoming the first Argentinian to race both the Para-cycling and Able bodied Pan-American Cycling Championships in Toronto:
She races with able bodied Argentinian team Xirayas de San Luís, including in this year’s Tour de San Luís – and she was the overall 2013 Argentinian Road Champion. There’s a mini interviews about Toronto, and her cycling journey here and an article about how her Olympic dream was nearly destroyed when her adapted road and track bikes were stolen in, but it became a national story, and she was given new bikes by Secretary of State for Sport Carlos Mac Allister, so she could train and race. Follow her on twitter.
Meg Fisher, C4, USA
One of my favourite moments of the Rio 2016 track was when Fisher won bronze in the C4 Individual Pursuit, and she joined her team mate Shawn Morelli, who won gold, on the top of the podium, and they sang the anthem together joyously. Such lovely team spirit, and she repeated it, cheering her heart out for her USA teamies as they raced in the velodrome.
She comes across as such a positive person, and she has big potential to add to that Pursuit medal, as she came away from London 2012 with Pursuit silver, and gold in the C4 ITT. She’s also a Paratriathlete, who loves to ski and snowboard in her spare time, races for the USA Twenty16 team, and is a physical therapy student. You can find out more about her in this piece she wrote or Ella Cycling Tips, and in this profile, and of course you should follow her on twitter. Here’s a video profile from the UCI from last year:
Anna Harkowska, C5, Poland
I feel like this profile of Harkowska on the UCI website is a little bit unfair, because coming away from the London Paralympics with 3 silver medals, in the C4-5 Road Race, ITT and Pursuit is really, really good. This year she didn’t win anything on the track, just missing the medals coming 4th in the Pursuit, and 10th in the 500m, but she’s much more of a road racer than trackie.
Kate Horan, New Zealand
This is Horan’s third Paralympics, but only her first on a bike. She competed in 2004 and 2008 as a runner, winning 200m silver in Beijing, and a combination of the birth of her third child and an injury forced her to miss London in 2012. She had to re-assess, as she couldn’t continue running, so moved to cycling in 2013, and has won two silver and a bronze in the 500m at the Paracycling Track World Championships, though she couldn’t match that in Rio, coming 6th in the 500m.
There’s an interesting piece about the technologies used by Kiwi Paralympians, on Stuff.nz, including Horan’s new prosthetic leg.
Crystal Lane, C5, Great Britain
I really feel for Crystal Lane, as with all the media focusing on Sarah Storey’s historic gold, Lane’s silver in the C5 Individual Pursuit behind her went under the radar a little bit – but that’s one of the disadvantages of being part of the super-successful track squad, there are just so many stars that “just” winning a medal isn’t enough for the media.
It was Storey who inspired Lane, a former football,to apply for a British Cycling Talent ID programme aged 24, as Lane hadn’t realised her hand disability would qualify her as a Paralympian – and Lane rode her first big race in 2011, winning a bronze in the 2011 Para-cycling World Championships. She’ll be racing in the C5 ITT, and the C4-5 Road Race. Off the bike, she’s studying for a Masters degree in Sports Nutrition at Loughborough University
Read her profile on British Cycling’s website, check out her website, and follow her twitter – and two videos from 2012 – one of them a profile, and in superstar Jody Cundy‘s video of trackies who couldn’t attend the Opening Ceremony because of their racing…
Alex Lisney, C4, Australia
I’ve always been a fan of Alex Lisney, née Alex Green, and back in 2014 I got to interview about her London 2012 experiences, which you can listen to or read. She’s just such an interesting and likeable person, starting as a rower before moving to cycling in 2010, and combining her racing with working as a structural engineer, after getting a Mechanical Engineering degree, and becoming the youngest board member of the NSW Cerebal Palsy Alliance. She hasn’t matched her London 2012 bronze… yet… but she’ll be fighting for every success, and promoting and supporting all her Aussie team mates, as she always does.
MarieClaude Molnar, C4, Canada
Molnar started cycling at three years old, as well as playing (ice) hockey, in true Canadian style. She’d always dreamed of competing in the Olympics, and said:
“My best friend from elementary school always called me ‘Indy’ because I would do little stunts when I was younger. Then she nicknamed me ‘Lancie’ as I was putting in the kilometers on the bike for the sake of knowing how far I could go.”
She was 21 when she was hit by a driver who was driving at car at 110kph in 2005, leaving her with a brain injury – and because she’d loved cycling so much, turned to para-cycling, and re-ignited her goal of racing at the Games. This is her second Games, and she got a Personal Best on her way to 5th in the Individual Pursuit, and now she’s all about the Time Trial, hoping to better her bronze from 2012. Find out more about her in this Canadian Paralympics profile, and follow her on her facebook and instagram, and I love her twitter – and especially these glimpses of her life she gives us:
Shawn Morelli, C4, USA
The 2016 C4 Individual Pursuit Gold medallist, winning the first 2016 Paralympics Gold for the USA, she’s an army veteran who was seriously injured by an improvised explosive device, when she was deployed as an Engineer Officer in Afghanistan in 2007, leaving her with neck, nerve damage, brain trauma and blindness in her left eye.
She began racing in 2010, and since then became Paracyling World Champion in the 2015 ITT and Road Race in her C4 category – and she’s a member of USA WorldTour team UnitedHealthcare. There’s an interview with her on Rocktape, and you can follow her facebook and twitter.
Jenny Narcisi, C4, Italy
This interview with Narcisi talks about about how riding a bike transformed her mental image of herself, although it also includes a lot of struggles a lot of women cyclists face, trying to compete in sports at a high level, while also having to work for a living. She only realised her disability that affects a lower leg and foot could qualify her as a Paralympian two years ago, and since then, has won World Cup medals in the ITT and Road Race. 8th in the Pursuit, and 10th in the 500m, she’s more of a road rider than a trackie, so it’ll be interesting to see what she does next.
Sue Powell, C4, Australia
She started as an able bodied cyclist, but after a hockey injury, she started riding for fitness, then in 2007, Masters level racing in Canberra for fun, but was quickly picked up by Cycling Australia, for the Paracycling team.
She won the C4 Individual Pursuit in the London 2012 Olympics, Australia’s first gold of the Games – and this year her IP Silver was the first Aussie medal
Rio will be her last Paralympic Games, and she’ll go full-time in her off-bike career as an environmental scientist. There’s a nice profile of her on the Australian Paralympic site, and you can follow her on twitter
Jennifer Schuble, C5, USA
Another USA army veteran, Schuble was a cadet at West Point academy when she had her first head injury, and after a second in a car accident, she was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis, and she campaigns for other brain injured soldiers, as she talks about in this video interview (including getting kissed by a prince!)
Her Rio preparations were derailed when some of the equipment she uses to adapt her bike was stolen at a race in May. This is her third Games – she won gold in the 500m and silver in the Pursuit in 2008, 500m silver in 2012, where she also became the first woman to medal in Paralympic Games Mixed Team Sprint, inning bronze. This year she was 6th in the Pursuit and 7th in the TT, and is now looking forward to the road:
Sarah Storey, C5, Great Britain
This is her sixth Paralympic Games – she started in 1992 in Barcelona, aged just 14, where she competed as a swimmer, and won two golds, three silvers and a bronze. She won three golds, a silver and a bronze in Atlanta in 1996, and two silvers and a bronze in Athens 2004 before persistent ear infections cut short her career in the pool. But she didn’t give up, instead she turned to cycling, where she was just as strong, winning two golds in Beijing, and has just got stronger ever since, with four golds in London 2012 in the 500m, Pursuit, ITT and Road Race – and her Pursuit gold in Rio made her Britain’s most successful female Paralympian.
She competes in able bodied cycling too – most notably attempting to break the UCI’s Hour Record in February last year, and you can watch her talk about that in this UCI video, and this BBC Sport piece – and she and her husband Barney run two UK domestic teams, Podium Ambition and feeder squad Team Boot Out Breast Cancer.
About the C4 & C5 Road Cycling
The C4 and C5 ITTs are on Wednesday 14th September, 10km in the P1A course, and the combined C4-5 45km Road Race on Saturday 17th.
Hopefully there will be livetiming for each race via the Schedule here.
I’ve written a guide on to how to follow the racing, and you can follow the Paralmypian Cyclists on twitter with this list – and you can catch up with all the Rio Track Cycling action in my collection of videos and media.
I’m funded to do my women’s cycling work by my wonderful Patreon supporters – thank you so much!