Morelli claims world championship victory in Rio
RIO DE JANEIRO – Despite suffering a hip labrum tear three months ago, Shawn Morelli added yet another rainbow jersey to her collection at the 2018 UCI Para Cycling Track World Championships in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil last week. Morelli rocketed to victory in the three-kilometer individual pursuit over Australian Emily Petricola in a hard-fought battle, winning by just over a second.
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“It was a good week considering 12 weeks ago I repaired that labrum tear and was off the bike for two weeks,” said Morelli, who also raced the 500-meter time trial and team sprint. “Then I had six weeks of no intensity or power, just spinning. By the time I could start intense workouts again, it was the first of February.”
The nail biting individual pursuit came down to the wire after Petricola beat Morelli’s world record time by half a second.
“This was unexpected,” Morelli said. “She is a new gal to the scene so I did not know what to expect from her. This played with my head a little as I was getting in the gate to start. I qualified well, riding a 3:56.2 which is a PR for me on this track.”
Morelli qualified in second place, but knew she had her work cut out for her in the final. The two-time Paralympic gold medalist had to outdo her world record to get a shot at the top step of the podium.
In the end, Morelli rode a 3:56.7 and was 1.2 seconds faster than Petricola. However, the Australian had closed to .2 of second with three laps left.
“I just remember the team coach screaming, ‘sprint.’ My team mates yelling ‘GO.’ I thought to myself, I am not losing today and brought it back out to over a second for the win.”
Morelli also took fifth in the 500 meter sprint and competed in the team sprint.
“In the team sprint competition, we put in the only all-female team and had to compete against the men,” Morelli said. “We did not care about this fact. We had our goals which was to best our time from the last year, which we accomplished by one second, riding a PR 58.001 seconds.”