Women We Love 2022: Kate O’Brien

Kate O’Brien

by JB Benavent

Kate O’Brien is used to pivoting. The out Canadian’s first (yes, first) championship sport was bob- sleigh pushing: from 2010-15, she competed in nine World Cup races and won a team bronze medal at the 2015 World Championships. An injury before the 2014 Winter Olympics and a request from a physiologist—what O’Brien calls “a peculiar twist of fate”—led her to competitive cycling and a spot on the Canadian national track cycling team, where she won medals at the 2015 Pan Am Games and World Cup, and represented her country at the 2016 Olympics in Rio. In 2017, O’Brien encountered a major setback: a life-threatening crash resulting in permanent dis- abilities and a traumatic brain injury. Post-rehab, she began competing as a para-cyclist and became the 2020 World Para-Cycling Champion, and a silver medalist at the 2020 Paralympic Games in Tokyo. “I have had a lot of support from family and friends to help me through adversity,” she tells GO. “I have been a major planner in life, and if the road to the end goal changed, I felt like an utter failure.” O’Brien adds, “A large part of getting through adversity is realizing that I cannot control everything; just because my road or path changes, doesn’t mean I can’t end up where I intended, or find a new place that I would rather be.” A classic overachiever, O’Brien holds a BSc in Kinesiology and an MSc in Medical Science from the University of Calgary, and has a unique preferred snack. She tells GO, “My favorite sandwich is peanut butter, pickle, and ketchup.” –LE

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