A busy day at Fuji International Speedway saw 19 Paralympic champions crowned in the time trial, as road cycling kicked off Tuesday, August 31 in Tokyo 2020.
A plethora of highlights included Keiko Sugiura who brought glory to Japan by winning the Women’s C1-3; The German Annika Zeyen, the Dutch Jetze Plat and the American Oksana Masters have shown that excellence in one sport can be perpetuated in another, as they each won their respective categories; and a young star from Frenchman Alexandre Lloveras, with driver Corentin Ermenault, is gaining momentum.
It sets the tone for the next three days of road cycling at the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games.
BACK TO BIKE
When the Paralympics were postponed, Keiko Sugiura believed she would not compete in 2021 because she would be 50 by then. But having only obtained her time trial bike three months ago, the pharmacist recovered and set herself the goal of at least getting on the podium during her home Games.
She outperformed the podium when she won gold, clocking 25: 55.76 on the 24km course, almost 30 seconds ahead of silver medalist Anna Beck of Sweden. A finalist at the 2019 World Time Trial Championships, the able-bodied former triathlete won her first major career gold medal in parasport – and this on her home run.
“I’m really glad I didn’t stop,” Sugiura said. “The people around me have supported me to continue this sport. Maybe I will give speeches everywhere (about) how to win a gold medal at my age, promoting my story.”
At 50, local rider Keiko Sugiura won the women’s C1-3 event
ANOTHER GOLD, ANOTHER SPORT
Five years ago, Germany’s Annika Zeyen competed for a gold medal in wheelchair basketball at Rio 2016. Her team lost to the United States in the final, which could have ended her career. Paralympic of Zeyen. But still hungry and with energy for more, she switched to para-cycling and after winning back-to-back world championship titles in road racing, the 36-year-old German added another gold to her Exceptional CV at the time. H1-3 test, picking up speed in the last 8 kilometers to record a sufficiently fast time ahead of the Italian Francesca Porcellato, reigning world champion. Zeyen was one of eight German medalists (three gold medals in total) on Tuesday.
“I never planned to participate in any other sport, but I’m so ambitious,” Zeyen said. “Winning gold medals in two different sports at the Paralympic Games is definitely enough.”
Dutchman Jetze Plat had just won a gold medal in the triathlon, and not only did he add another Paralympic gold on Tuesday, but also his first in the H4 time trial. He did not stand on the podium in the event at Rio 2016, and won bronze in the road race. But since then the Dutchman has gone undefeated in both disciplines at all of the World Championships, to set the stage for Tokyo 2020. And he didn’t disappoint, securing the third gold for his country that day. (five in total).
“That was the plan (to win both in triathlon and in cycling). It was a bit risky, but I recovered really well after the triathlon and felt so ready yesterday, ”said Plat. but the bad luck was only yesterday and today everything was perfect.
American Oksana Masters finally won her first gold medal at the Paralympic Summer Games after winning the H5 category. It was a long time coming, not having reached the podium at Rio 2016. His victory adds to the pair of gold medals at the PyeongChang 2018 Paralympic Winter Games in Nordic skiing. The United States team won three medals, including two gold in the time trial.
“It wasn’t planned,” Masters said. “I was just trying to hold on and fight for third place. In a million years, I never thought I would fight for a gold medal. In Tokyo 2020. In cycling.”
INCREASING TALENT AND RETURN
An injury kept him from playing track and field, but Frenchman Alexandre Lloveras found a way to keep playing sports by getting into cycling, and it seemed to suit him the best.
The 21-year-old was very quick in the men’s B to win gold in his Paralympic debut and has spelled more to come from the Frenchman.
“Winning the gold medal is fantastic, it’s a dream come true,” said Lloveras. “This medal is for my whole family – my dad, my mom and all the staff. Thank you very much. It’s amazing.”
Not new to the sport, Britain’s Sarah Storey won her sixth Paralympic gold medal in road cycling in the women’s C5 time trial. This is in addition to the gold she won at the Vélodrome last week.
“The time trial is probably one of my favorite events,” Storey said. “It’s the ‘race for truth.’ It’s you against the clock and trying to take your competition as you see them.”
With a gold medal on the track, Briton Sarah Story adopts the right atmosphere for road cycling and wins the women’s C5 time trial
The competition continues on Wednesday (September 1) with road races.