Keith’s first international scratch medal leads Team USA into Track World Championships
by Kristen Gowdy
Aaron Keith races the 15-kilometer Scratch MC1 at the 2022 UCI Para-cycling World Championships. (Photo: Casey Gibson)
MONTIGNY-LE-BRETTONEUX, FRANCE – Already a road world championships medalist in 2022 and a Paralympic medalist in 2021, Aaron Keith (Woodinville, Washington) continued his podium streak to lead Team USA on the first day of competition at the 2022 UCI Para-cycling Track World Championships. Keith’s silver medal in the 15-kilometer Scratch MC1 marked the first time he has won a scratch race medal in an international competition.
The performance put an exclamation point on a first day of competition that saw Team USA record four other top-five finishes, plus five more top-five results in the Omnium 200-meter Flying Start races, which are not medal events but do count toward athletes’ overall Omnium points. The Omnium competition encompasses the total amount of points earned by athletes across four races: scratch, individual pursuit, time trial and 200-meter flying start.
In addition to his medal, Keith placed third in his flying start race and is in second in the overall Omnium standings. He said his first international scratch medal was the product of staying poised through nerves and executing his game plan.
“The experiences I’ve had in the scratch races on the track have been pretty tough in the past,” Keith said. “I’ve had a few crashes, and so it’s always nerve-wracking because you’ve got a mass start, anything can happen. Developing that game plan with my coaches in advance keeps it in control and allows me to not have to think about it as much.”
The race came down to the wire. With one lap to go, Keith utilized crafty sprint tactics to take the lead over Spaniard Ricardo Ten Argiles, but the eight-time world championships medalist eventually fell to Ten Argiles, who sped ahead in the final meters to take the race by milliseconds.
“It was a good, fun race, and it was a clean race,” Keith said. “I hope it gets other guys on the team inspired. Hopefully there’s more of this to come this week, we still have a lot of racing as a team.”
2022 Road World Champions Samantha Bosco (Claremont, California) and Clara Brown (Falmouth, Maine) made their returns to international track cycling competition with strong showings for Team USA. Bosco, who is in the middle of the most dominant season of her career after winning two rainbow jerseys on the road and the overall road world cup title, flew to a second-place finish in the Omnium 200-meter Flying Start WC4 before taking fifth in the 500-meter Time Trial WC4.
After today’s competition, Bosco sits tied for second in the overall WC4 Omnium standings with the individual pursuit and scratch races remaining. Her continued success on the track is made all the more impressive by the fact that she is coming off a serious injury sustained in a training accident that ended her 2021 season prior to the Paralympic Games Tokyo 2020.
Brown, meanwhile, utilized fourth and fifth-place finishes in the 200-meter Flying Start and the 500-meter Time Trial to make a case for the WC3 Omnium podium. She is currently ranked fourth, just four points out of the bronze medal position.
The defending Omnium world champion, Brown has her sights set on tomorrow’s 10-kilometer Scratch WC3 competition. At the 2020 world championships, she took silver in both of her remaining events: scratch and individual pursuit.
Making her world championships debut, Katie Walker (San Diego, California) shone in her signature event, the 500-meter Time Trial WC5, with a fifth-place finish. In her first-ever international cycling competition, Walker was just .569 seconds off her first career podium a dramatic race that saw the Netherland’s Caroline Groot make an unprecedented recovery after a crash to win the gold medal.
The race wraps Walker’s worlds campaign. The former Para track and field athlete said that while she was disappointed in missing the podium, she also gained valuable experience on the track that will host the Paralympic Games in two years.
“It was really cool to see the international competition, and I’m excited to come back next year having more consistency,” Walker said. “I feel hopeful, I feel excited just knowing that I’m right there and it can only go up from here. It was a great experience to ride this track, feel the track. It was an awesome experience to be able to preview this track before the Games.”
Fellow newcomer John Terrell (Converse, Texas) impressed in his track world championships debut just two months after securing two top-10 finishes at his road world championships debut in August.
After placing fourth in a highly competitive 200-meter Flying Start MC4 in which he missed the podium by less than one-tenth of a second and the top of the field by .710 seconds, Terrell just missed the bronze medal final of the 4-kilometer individual pursuit. His time of 4:48.478 put him into fifth place for his second top-five finish of the day.
2020 Paralympic gold medalist Shawn Morelli (Meadville, Pennsylvania) returned to international competition for the first time since Tokyo 2020, where she won Team USA’s only two track cycling medals. Morelli began her 2022 world championships campaign on a high note, placing third in the Omnium 200-meter Flying Start WC4 competition behind only Bosco and Emily Petricola of Great Britain.
Morelli followed that with a seventh-place result in the 500-meter Time Trial WC4 in the afternoon session. The 16-time world championships medalist has a quick turnaround, as she is set to race the 3-kilometer Individual Pursuit – the event in which she won Paralympic silver in Tokyo – on Friday.
Making his international para-cycling debut, Bryan Larsen (Placerville, California) placed seventh in the Omnium 200-meter Flying Start MC5 and 11th in the 4-kilometer Individual Pursuit MC5. Larsen set personal bests in both of his races, and he will look to build on that momentum in tomorrow’s 15-kilometer Scratch Race.
Larsen, who has dreamed about representing Team USA since he was 12, spoke about his journey to his first para-cycling worlds in a story published on USParaCycling.org yesterday.
Competition resumes Friday morning with the fourth session of cycling, with Keith returning to the track for the qualifying heats of the 1-kilometer Time Trial MC1. Larsen, Brown, Morelli, Bosco and Terrell are all scheduled to compete later in the day.
For media requests and photo inquiries, please contact Kristen Gowdy at Kristen.Gowdy@usopc.org.