Shawn Morelli Races to Team USA’s First Medal of Tokyo 2020
by Cady Lowery
Shawn Morelli at the Paralympic Games Tokyo2020 (Photo: Casey B. Gibson/USOPC)
TOKYO - Para-cycling kicked off at the Izu Velodrome with a host of exciting races. Shawn Morelli (Meadville, Pennsylvania) led the way for the U.S., earning a silver medal in the 3000m individual pursuit WC4 to start the Paralympic Games Tokyo 2020 off on a high note. Morell’s medal gave Team USA its first of the 12-day long competition.
Morelli earned a spot in the gold medal final after finishing second in qualifying with a time of 3:46.842. The two-time Paralympian entered the race as the defending Paralympic champion in the race from the Paralympic Games Rio 2016 and took second behind Australian Emily Petricola who set a Paralympic and world record in the competition.
Clara Brown (Falmouth, Maine) made her Paralympic debut and advanced to the bronze medal bout in the 3000m individual pursuit WC3. She finished fourth with a time of 4:01.523 in what is one of the strongest fields at the Tokyo Games this year.
After being added to the team this month, two-time Paralympian Jamie Whitmore (Somerset, California) entered qualifying looking to have a strong showing in the 3000m individual pursuit WC3. She finished eighth on the day.
Competition continues from the Izu Velodrome on August 26 with 3000m individual pursuit MC1.
This feels great after the journey we’ve had after the past year and a half during the pandemic. It feels great to get here and then perform for Team USA. I give credit to my coaches because it was hard at times trying to keep focused when you didn’t know if the Games were even going to happen.
I love to compete, so being out there for everybody, and not just for me, but for my family, friends and country. I just wanted to perform well and represent my team well. Hopefully everybody back home thinks I did.
I really fought today and it feels good to have made a final with my performance. It’s inspiring to be out here with such strong competitors, and it means that much more to have made a final against them because it is a strong field.
It was an emotional rollercoaster this time around. Going into this Games, I’ve just felt a lot of gratitude. Rio, it was for overcoming cancer and having a second career. This time, it’s just being able to go and be part of this. The Paralympics is one of the most amazing things.
To be at my second Games, it’s much more incredible. Now my kids are more aware of the magnitude of this race. All their classmates and teachers are watching back home. While I am one of the old dogs now, it’s nice to be that person that helps the younger ones relax and be calm and just focus on having the race as their life.
Tune into NBCSN, NBCSports.com and Peacock for coverage of Para-cycling at the Paralympic Games.
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