Shawn Morelli wins first USA medal at the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games

TOKYO, Japan — The first medal for the United States at the 2020 Paralympic Games in Tokyo arrives from track cycling. Shawn Morelli wins silver in the Women’s C4 3000m Individual Pursuit.

Faster than Morelli was only the Australian Emily Petricola – who seems to have arrived in Tokyo in the best shape, setting a new world record in the morning qualifying race. Keely Shaw from Canada completes the podium winning bronze.

Five years after winning a gold medal in Rio de Janeiro, Morelli confirms her status amongst the international elite in this sport, representing once again Team USA on a Paralympic podium.

“A medal at the Games is a medal at the Games,” she said after the final. “It still means you are one of the bests in the world.”

“It feels great after the journey we had the last year and half through the pandemic, […] it feels great to get here and to be able to perform for Team USA.”

Shawn Morelli on the Velodrome track on August 25, 2021. (PHOTO CREDIT: Danny Chin, Omega Photo Studios)

“Just being out there for everybody, not just for me, but for my family, my friends, my country, I just wanted to perform well and represent my team well and hopefully everybody back home thinks I did.”

The Games in Japan are not over yet for the 45-year-old Army veteran, as she does not have much time to celebrate this achievement.

Morelli has still two more races to go before concluding her Paralympic experience in Tokyo. She will be competing in two cycling road events: the Women’s C4 Time Trial on August 31, and the Women’s C4-5 Road Race on September 2.

“I’m going to go out there and give everything I have, and hopefully I will come out at the top. And I think I will,” she said, confirming the high expectations she has for herself.

Two additional American teammates competed today at the Izu Velodrome: Clara Brown and Jamie Whitmore. They both raced in the Women’s C1-3 3000m Individual Pursuit, finishing fourth and eighth respectively.

Whitmore finished her race in the heats with no possibility to improve her position, although she said she was satisfied with her own race and the time that she had set. Brown instead finished the heats in fourth position, securing herself the possibility to fight for a bronze medal against Denise Schindler from Germany.

“I’m excited to make the final at my first Paralympic showing. I really fought for it, so it feels good to have made the final with that performance,” Brown said. “It was a challenge for sure.”

In their race, there have been five new world records, demonstrating the incredibly high level of performance by the entire field of competitors during these Games.  

“It’s inspiring to be out here today with such strong competitors, and it means so much more that I made a final amongst them,” Brown said. 

“It is a strong field, and it means a lot to be with them.”

Even though Brown did not manage to win a medal in this occasion, she definitely gained important experience that will help in the fight for the podium at the 2024 Paralympic Games in Paris.

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