U.S. Paralympics

U.S. Paralympics

Sep 28 Greta Neimanas' Blog - World Champs, Part One

Sept. 28, 2009, 12:53 p.m. (ET)

If you’re a regular reader of this site, you may already know (because I’m slow at updating this thing) that Worlds went very well for me. This was my third World Championships, so going in to it, I knew what to expect for the most part. This was the first year that the road and track disciplines were separated into two completely different events. Worlds Part 1 and Part 2 as I like to think of them. This blog is about Worlds Part 1 which took place in Bogogno, Italy just outside Milan.

First up was the time trial. For some reason, Americans are good at this event- Paralympic and Olympic. The TT is an individual race against the clock. We ride those funny looking bikes with the stick-out handle bars, and the helmets that look like shark fins. All in the name of speed right?

Now, World Championships is a pretty big deal. Actually it's the biggest deal of the year. Some athletes are (in my mind) cursed with nervousness at events like that. However, I am not. (That probably sounds extremely cocky, but I don't mean it that way.) I'm more rational- this is what I do best, this is why I'm here, it's just another bike race (it really is) so just do what you know how to do- all the while keeping in mind that this is the biggest race of the year, and the reason I live at the training center in the back of my head. While racing, being nervous just takes away from the energy you need to go fast, and I need all the energy I can get.

I don’t want to say I had the ride of my life in the TT- because hopefully I’ll get faster than I am now- but to this point in my career it was my best ride. That’s how it should be right? Anyway, I started 1 min ahead of Sarah the Brit and Paralympic Champion, and going in I knew the likelihood of getting caught was pretty high.

Just hold her off as long as possible. My coach guessed she’d catch me around the beginning of the second lap, so when I didn’t see her at all for the first 16k (in a 19k race), I had a good idea I was rolling pretty well. She caught me with 1k to go, right at the top of the final hill, and we rode in basically together (as much “together” you can have in a TT) across the finish line. 28:03 to her 27:02 and good enough to be the bridesmaid. This is the first time I can think of I’m satisfied with 2nd. 

Next up was the road race which went pretty much exactly as I thought it would, just sooner. Sarah attacked on lap 2 of 6 and I tried to go with her, but didn’t have the legs to match the attack. Claire (the Aussie) and I chased for the remainder of the race but were unable to catch her. With 2k to go, I got a little gap and rolled in for 2nd... again. Another bridesmaid position, but a satisfying finish nonetheless.

It’s hard for us to road race because our fields are so small. It seemed that this year everyone had much smaller teams, and some countries didn’t come at all, making for much smaller fields. Hopefully the track (Worlds Part 2) will have more competitors, and next year’s Worlds (They’ll be road and track together again) will have bigger fields. That said, it was still good racing, and the athletes that showed up brought their best which is all you can ask for.

The team as a whole did extremely well this year- better than expected. We brought home 11 total medals, 5 jerseys/golds (World Champions are awarded a Rainbow Jersey that they are allowed to wear for the following year, in the event that they are champion), 5 silvers and 1 bronze. Every rider finished both their races in the top 10, and rode to personal bests. Hopefully we can carry this momentum through the track to keep the tally going. Just wait a few more weeks for a Worlds Part 2 update. 

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