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Medals and records rain for Team USA on track cycling finale

by Heidi Ledermann

Michael Stephens and Joe Christiansen compete in the velodrome. (Photo by Pepe Alvujar/Parapanamericanos Santiago 2023)

SANTIAGO, CHILE – If the heat inside the velodrome was any indication, the Para-cycling track was fast, and Team USA was on fire. Capturing medals in all four Parapan American Games events in which the country’s athletes competed, the U.S. racked up an additional three gold medals and one silver on the final day of track cycling in Santiago.


Following their gold medal performance yesterday, Hannah Chadwick (El Cerrito, California) and guide Skyler Espinoza (Freeport, Maine) found success again on the track with the fastest time in the women’s B 1000m individual time trial.


“I think it’s pretty incredible to be on a world stage with two medals,” said Chadwick. “I’m just really proud of us.”


The women completed the event with a time of 1:12.265, beating the previous Parapan American Games record by over a second.


“I think we had more expectations coming into today,” said Espinoza. “We prepared a lot for this particular event, so there is definitely a feeling of relief that we came out, executed it and did what we needed to do. We also got a Parapan American Games record today, and it’s nice to carve our names into the history books.”


After having missed out on a bronze medal yesterday, Michael Stephens (Colorado Springs, Colorado) and his guide Joe Christiansen (Lyons, Colorado) came back to the track with a vengeance.


“Yesterday, we could taste that bronze medal in a race that we don’t run,” said Stephens. “It just wasn’t there. We gave it our all. We gave a show to the crowd, and we also showed ourselves what we were capable of for today.”


And capable they were. The men powered past the competition with a time of 1:02.974, setting a new Parapan American Games record for the men’s B 1000m individual time trial.


“It’s everything we came here to accomplish,” said Stephens, “and we’re going home very happy.”


The duo attributed their success to their partnership, trust in one another, and their teamwork over the past four years – as tumultuous as those have been.


“I can jump on the bike with the fastest person in the U.S. or anywhere else and we won’t go fast unless we’re a team,” said Stephens. “To have Joe on the bike for over four years now is the difference maker to us doing what we do and winning this gold medal.”


Christiansen echoed, “Cycling is such an individual sport, so to be able to do it together has been massive and we’ve been through a lot – it’s been quite the journey to get here.”


Duplicating her golden success in the women’s C1-5 individual time trial Para-cycling road event on Sunday, Samantha Bosco (Claremont, California) became a champion in the women’s C4-5 3000m individual pursuit after having narrowly qualified to be in the gold medal race.


“I had a schedule that I talked with our coach on, and I had that in my head,” said Bosco of the qualifying event. “I went out a touch faster, but I thought, ‘What the heck? Maybe I can try to hold that.’ I think I picked the wrong gear. I didn’t settle in soon enough and then settled too much, so I had a little bit of mistakes.”


However, her ability to correct those mistakes proved fruitful, as Bosco finished with a time of 3:50.412, only a mere 0.033 seconds in front of Colombia’s Paula Ossa Veloza. As the last racer competing in the heats, Bosco knew the times she needed to hit to qualify for the afternoon’s final, but she did not realize until after the race finished just how close the race for the finals had been.


“I had a general idea based off the math and the splits that I had to run and where I was at compared to that, but I had no idea that it was three hundredths of a second until I looked up and saw it.


“I just trusted myself and trusted the process,” said Bosco. “We made some changes in between qualification and finals that I knew that I could do, and I really believed that I could do it.”


Bosco finished in a time of 3:45.752, ending with a comfortable second lead over Canada’s Keely Toles and a new Parapan American Games record. Bosco attributed the support of her team to her success.


“Sarah and all the coaching staff, everybody here and the mechanics, everybody cheering me on, all the athletes that were still here – even athletes that are here for road cheered – and it just helped bring out even more because I knew I had people behind me, and I knew that we could do it together,” said Bosco.


After earning a silver medal in Sunday’s women’s C1-5 individual time trial Para-cycling road event, Jamie Whitmore (Somerset, California) added another silver medal to her collection.


The last time Whitmore won a Games medal in the individual pursuit was at the Paralympic Games Rio 2016 where she won gold. Additionally, the last time she qualified for a pursuit medal match was in 2019. She took some time away from the track in 2021 to focus on road racing, but it is evident that Whitmore’s return was the right decision.


During the first event of the morning, Whitmore qualified in first place for the women’s C1-3 3000m individual pursuit with a time of 4:12.540. Her success led Whitmore to the gold/silver medal round in the evening where she completed the course with a time of 4:10.212 but was ultimately edged out by only one one-hundredth of a second by Canada’s Melissa Pemble-Chubb-Higgins. Whitmore noted that today’s medal is the confidence boost she needed to feel better prepared for the Paralympic Games Paris 2024.


“I feel like I’m strong, and I haven’t felt that way for six years,” said Whitmore. “I’m super stoked to just be feeling strong and competitive again – like I’ve got a shot, and it’s just about fine-tuning those little details which I’ve spent the past few months doing – so I look forward to going into Paris to just see if I can keep making those small gains.”


Speaking on Team USA’s success, Ian Lawless, director of U.S. Paralympics Cycling, said, “Five medals on the track was the goal, and the path to the five medals was a little different than we expected, but we got there between yesterday and today. Especially to have four gold medals and one silver on the track is amazing for us.”


“We couldn’t be prouder of this team,” Lawless continued. “It really gives us momentum going into the road race on Sunday.”


Para-cycling concludes on Sunday, Nov. 26, for the road races on the final day of Parapan American Games competition. All sessions will be streamed live on the Pan Am sports channel. Follow U.S. Paralympics Cycling on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram for updates and results throughout the competition.


For media requests and photo inquiries, please contact Heidi Ledermann at Heidi.Ledermann@usopc.org.


Team USA Medals – Nov. 24:

GOLD

Samantha Bosco, women’s C4-5 3000m individual pursuit

Hannah Chadwick & Skyler Espinoza, women’s B 1000m individual time trial

Michael Stephens & Joe Christiansen, men’s B 1000m individual time trial


SILVER

Jamie Whitmore, women’s C1-3 3000m individual pursuit


Other Team USA Results:

Katie Walker – DNS, women’s C4-5 3000m individual pursuit

Joe Berenyi – DNS, men’s C1-3 3000m individual pursuit

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