Keely Shaw hasn’t been able to stop thinking about the latest para-cycling event she competed at, and how close she came to winning a medal against the world’s best.
The former Midale resident, who now lives in Saskatoon, finished fourth in the individual pursuit at the Para-Cycling Track World Championships in Milton, Ont., last week.
The individual pursuit is one of her top events, and the outdoor time trial is the other.
She qualified in third spot and raced for a bronze medal. Shaw missed competing for the gold medal by seven-tenths of a second.
“I had to pass my competitor during my qualifier, which my coach figures lost me about a second,” she said. “So that might have been the difference between racing for gold or racing for bronze.”
Then in the bronze medal match, she lost by .075 seconds.
“I was racing a former world champion in almost every discipline. We were neck and neck the entire time. My brother was watching the live feed, and he said the commentators were saying that the facility had never been as loud as it was for my race.”
Shaw broke her Canadian record by 3 1/2 seconds while in Milton, reaching a level of speed that even she didn’t think was possible.
“There are things that are relatively easy to improve upon, so that in seven months time hopefully I’ll find myself in Tokyo and maybe finding the podium there,” Shaw said.
She believes 12 world records were set in Milton on what is a relatively slow track when compared to other tracks around the world.
“It really just goes to show the level of skill that para-cycling holds. We really see guys with one leg approaching speeds that the able-bodies would find. In the last two years, the field has just exploded, and there is so much talent,” she said.
More people have realized what para-sport is all about, and now know that they are eligible for the sport.
“We’re a country that has such strong roots in sport and in all sport, that if somebody gets some unfortunate life events, they’re hurt in some way, their sporting career doesn’t have to end there, and I think it’s important for everybody to know that,” she said.
Shaw will likely find out early in the summer whether she will be named to Canada’s para-cycling entry for the 2020 Paralympic Games in Tokyo. Her performance in Milton was an important step.
She has several more chances to prove herself. In the first weekend in May, she will be in Montreal for a race. Two weeks later, there’s a World Cup race in Italy. The road world championships happen in Belgium in June, and then nationals will be in Quebec.
“It will be after that race in Belgium where UCI (Union Cycliste Internationale), our international governing body, will tell us how many males and how many females we can send to the games, and then from there, Cycling Canada will name their team.”
It’s not set in stone how many Canadians will be attending, but Shaw said it’s smaller than the number of athletes Canada would send to a road race.
Shaw will also train to get ready for the upcoming road race season, since it’s very different from racing on a track.
“They are essentially two completely different sports. Road cycling is a very aerobic, endurance-based sport, whereas track cycling is very much a power-based sports.”
And in the process, she will keep building her case to compete in Tokyo for the Paralympics.