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U.S. Men's Team Sprint Closes Out Track Cycling In Tokyo With Sixth-Place Finish

by Chrös McDougall

Aaron Keith competes in the mixed C1-5 team sprint the Paralympic Games Tokyo 2020. 

 

The U.S. team of Aaron Keith, Joe Berenyi and Chris Murphy closed out the track cycling portion of the Paralympic Games Tokyo 2020 by finishing sixth in the mixed C1-5 team sprint Saturday at the Izu Velodrome.

The Americans completed the 750-meter course in 52.051 seconds, for an average speed of 51.872 kmh, and sat in fourth place at the conclusion of their ride. However, both remaining teams jumped over the U.S. in the standings to knock the Americans out of medal contention.

The top two teams, China and Great Britain, advanced to Saturday afternoon’s gold-medal race, while Spain and France will face off for bronze.

“Coming into today, with the lineup that we had, we knew that we had an outside shot,” said Murphy, who is competing in his second Paralympics and is seeking his first Paralympic medal.

Knowing that they weren’t medal favorites, Murphy said, meant the U.S. “didn't necessarily put a lot of our energy into this team sprint” compared to the 2020 world championships, when the team of Berenyi, Murphy and Jason Kimball finished third.

The U.S. cyclists are also looking forward to the beginning of the road cycling portion of the Paralympics, which takes place Tuesday through Friday at Fuji International Speedway.

Five years after claiming five medals on the track at the Paralympic Games Rio 2016, the U.S. leaves the Izu Velodrome, about 80 miles southwest of central Tokyo, with a lone silver medal. Shawn Morelli earned that in the women's C4 individual pursuit, after having won the same event in Rio.

Americans were in contention on a handful of other events in Tokyo, most notably the women’s C1-3 individual pursuit, where first-time Paralympian Clara Brown posted the fourth fastest preliminary time but just missed the podium when she lost the bronze-medal race. All four of the top finishers in that race broke the previous C3 world record.

In an Instagram post, the always charismatic Brown wrote that she was “proud” of her performance and left “absolutely everything I had on the track,” but added that she was also “heartbroken knowing I am capable of so much more.”

“It is so inspiring to race at such a high level and be a part of progressing our sport to once unimaginable times for our field,” the native of Falmouth, Maine, wrote. “Unfortunately I didn’t have the legs to make the podium after advancing to the bronze final, while the other women had stellar rides.”

The U.S. men added a pair of fifth-place finishes from Murphy in the C4-5 time trial and Keith in the C1 individual pursuit. The 52-year-old Berenyi, Team USA’s top track male track cyclist with four Paralympic medals, one of them gold, in three previous trips to the Games, was seventh in the C3 individual pursuit for his top individual finish in Tokyo.

Several Americans could be in contention for medals on the road. Will Groulx (men’s H2 road race), Morelli (women’s C4 time trial) and Jamie Whitmore (women’s C1-3 road race) are all defending Paralympic gold medalists. The U.S. won 13 road medals in Rio.

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.

Chrös McDougall has covered the Olympic and Paralympic Movement for TeamUSA.org since 2009.
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