NewsShawn Morelli

Shawn Morelli Opens Tokyo Games With Track Cycling Silver To Claim Team USA’s First Medal

by Bob Reinert

Shawn Morelli poses with her medal on the podium after the women's C4 3000-meter individual pursuit event during the Paralympic Games Tokyo 2020 on Aug. 25, 2021 in Izu, Japan. 

 

Shawn Morelli had the distinction of winning the first U.S. medal at the Paralympic Games Tokyo 2020 when she rode to a silver in the women’s C4 3,000-meter individual pursuit track cycling event on Wednesday.
Morelli had qualified for the gold-medal matchup at the Izu Velodrome against Australia’s Emily Petricola, but the Australian proved too strong for Morelli, the defending Paralympic champion from Rio. Petricola lapped Morelli in the finale to claim the gold.
“I think everybody (who falls short of defending a title) is a little bit (disappointed), but a medal at the Games is a medal at the Games,” Morelli said. “It still means you’re one of the best in the world. (Petricola) threw down an awesome ride, and she brought it. Now I know what I’ve got to do to get back to her.”
It won’t be easy for the 45-year-old Morelli of Meadville, Pennsylvania. Petricola, 41, set the world record in qualifying with a time of 3 minutes, 38.061 seconds for an average speed of 49.527 kilometers per hour. That performance also broke Morelli’s Paralympic record of 3:57.741, set in 2016 at Rio.
In qualifying for the finale against Petricola, Morelli had ridden to a time of 3:46.842, or an average of 47.610 kmh.
This was the second Paralympics for Morelli, who won gold in this event and in the road time trial in Rio. She also has won a total of 16 medals — including 12 golds — at world championship events.
“I love to compete and just being out there for everybody, not just for me but for my family, my friends, my country,” Morelli said. “I just wanted to really perform well and represent my team and, hopefully, everybody back home thinks I did.
“I’m thrilled being able to come out of the pandemic in as great shape as this and to earn a medal.”

Clara Brown competes in the track cycling women’s C1-3 3000-meter individual pursuit at the Paralympic Games Tokyo 2020 on Aug. 25, 2021 in Izu, Japan.

 

Fellow American Clara Brown, 25, of Falmouth, Maine, just missed earning a medal of her own in the women’s C1-3 3,000-meter individual pursuit. She lost in the bronze-medal race to Denise Schindler of Germany. 
The 35-year-old Schindler turned in a time of 3:55.120, while Brown came across the line in 4:01.523 to finish in fourth place. 
Schindler’s bronze was the first medal of these Games. Paige Greco of Australia set the world record with a time of 3:50.815, or 46.791 kmh, to prevail over China’s Wang Xiaomei in the C1-3 gold-medal pairing.
This was Brown’s Paralympic debut. A rising star on both the road and track, she has competed in world championships in 2020 and 2019, earning a total of six medals, including two golds, two silvers and a pair of bronzes.
Jamie Whitmore of the U.S. also competed in the C1-3 class. Whitmore placed eighth with a time of 4:11.108. She averaged 43.009 kmh.
Whitmore, 45, of Somerset, California, won a silver medal in this event in Rio to go along with her gold in the road race. She has won a total of 20 medals at world championships since 2013.
Want to follow Team USA athletes during the Paralympic Games Tokyo 2020? Visit TeamUSA.org/Tokyo-2020-Paralympic-Games to view the medal table and results.


Bob Reinert spent 17 years writing sports for The Boston Globe. He also served as a sports information director at Saint Anselm College and Phillips Exeter Academy. He is a contributor to TeamUSA.org on behalf of Red Line Editorial, Inc.
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