Out Canadian para-cyclist Kate O’Brien is now an Olympic medalist.
O’Brien won silver in the Women’s C4-5 500 meter Time Trial on Friday, with a time of 35.439 seconds. She finished behind Great Britain’s Kadeena Fox, who won gold with a time of 34.433 seconds.
O’Brien had previously competed in the 2016 Rio Games, but in 2017 was involved in a cycling crash that left her comatose. Despite doctors telling her she would never ride, walk, or even speak properly again — and despite an epilepsy diagnosis in 2018 — O’Brien incorporated cycling into her recovery.
In January 2020, she made her para-cycling debut at the Para-cycling Track World Championships, where she won two world titles and set two world records.
“I never imagined that I would get to compete in the Paralympic Games,” O’Brien wrote on Instagram last week. “I wouldn’t have believed anyone if they told me that I would. I don’t do well with change. But, after 33 years on this planet, I am realizing that change is inevitable, and oftentimes, amazing.”
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O’Brien’s medal is the third so far for Canada in the 2020 Paralympic Games, and one of nine medals won by “Team LGBTQ,” which is fielding a record-number 33 out athletes in Tokyo this year.
Last week, American Hailey Danz won her second consecutive silver medal in the triathlon. Equestrian Lee Pearson of Great Britain won two gold medals in Tokyo, bringing his career total gold-medal count to 13. And Australia’s Robyn Lambird has become the first openly non-binary athlete to win a Paralympic medal, with their bronze-medal finish in the Women’s tack and field 100 meter.