November 15, 2011 (Guadalajara, MEX) – The 2011 Parapan-American Games continued Tuesday in Guadalajara, Mexico, with the first day of the track cycling events, and Canada’s para-cycling team excelled with two gold medals in the tandem individual pursuit on the track.
The tandem of Robbi Weldon (North Bay, ON) and Lyne Bessette (Knowlton, QC) continued to dominate the Women’s visually impaired category at these Games, winning their second gold medal in as many races.
“We were really excited with our qualifying time, a new Canadian best, but we knew we would have a tough final. We overcame a tough start with the starting mechanism malfunctioning but we overcame it to win. I am very proud of our performance,” said Robbi Weldon, a two-time World Champion.
“This was our fourth pursuit together and it felt really good. Robbi has really improved her pedaling. Every time we race together we are getting better as a team. This is our second Gold of the games so we are really very, very happy,” said pilot Lyne Bessette.
On opening day of the Games in sunny Mexico, the duo won the gold medal in the women’s individual time trials, a discipline in which they are World Champions. Today, both ladies won the top prize in the Women’s Individual Pursuit on the track with a time of 3:42.298 in the gold medal race.
In the men’s competition, the newly-formed, temporary tandem of Daniel Chalifour (St-Jérome, QC) and Ed Veal (Toronto, ON) were the fastest in the men’s individual pursuit. The duo today captured the gold medal posting a time of 4:23.933 after easily winning their second medal of the Games as they took the bronze in the road individual time trials.
“It was like a movie, our first time racing as a team and winning two Gold Medals. We even had to overcome a flat tire in the qualifier earlier in the day. Like I said it was like a movie. We started fast but tried to keep a consistent pace and it worked for us,” described Daniel Chalifour.
“This is my first time racing with Daniel and we are a now two for two. I have to give a lot of credit to Eric [Van Den Eyde, Head Coach]. I usually come out of the gates like a gorilla, starting fast. We saw other teams try it and fail. Eric held me back and kept us on a consistent pace, stick to the plan. It was a perfect race,” said Ed Veal, pilot.
The tandem of Veal and Chalifour was formed just before the start of the Parapan-American Games. Alexandre Cloutier, Chalifour’s regular pilot, opted to stay back in Canada to care for his new born baby.
Jaye Milley (Calgary, AB) placed fourth in the men’s 1000m Time Trials and posted a personal best time of 1:23.232 in a race where the World Record was broken. Teammate Mathieu Parent (Granby, QC) finished sixth, while Eric Bourgault (Orford, QC) posted the 12th fastest time. In the women’s C1-5 500m time trial race, Marie-Claude Molnar (Ste-Adèle, QC) placed fourth.
Earlier in the Games, the Canadian para-cycling team earned four medals in the road individual time trial races. Canada took two spots of the podium in the visually impaired category with the Weldon/Bessette tandem capturing the gold medal and the Chalifour/Veal tandem grabbing the bronze medal. Shelley Gauthier (Toronto, ON) excelled in the tricycle race to take the silver medal, while Rico Morneau won the bronze medal in the mixed H1-H4 race.