Allison Beveridge was all smiles after winning a bronze medal in the women's team pursuit event at the Rio Olympics.
And why wouldn't she?
Beveridge and her teammates — Kirsti Lay, Jasmin Duehring and Georgia Simmerling — just defeated New Zealand in a national-record time of four minutes 14.627 seconds.
But the Calgary native was battling more than just the clock on that day.
In January 2016, Beveridge injured her shoulder in a crash at a World Cup event in Hong Kong and it continued to bother the 24-year-old leading up to the Games.
Beveridge didn't fully know the extent of the injury until March when it was discovered that she had a blood clot in her arm and, more specifically, thoracic outlet syndrome — a group of disorders that occur when blood vessels or nerves in the space between the collarbone and first rib are compressed.
"I rode up to the Games on blood thinners and then came off [them] to race. [I] tried to fix it with physio and such to see if it would go away but the clot came back after the Games," Beveridge recalls.
Fall came around and the four-time world championship medallist was still experiencing discomfort.
'A couple of people told me I wasn't going to be able to come back and race again.'
- Allison Beveridge on her journey back to track cycling
After consulting with a surgeon, Beveridge decided scheduled surgery for the following January.
"They took out the top rib just to open up some space. I was able to come off the medication I was on but I didn't touch a bike for five months," Beveridge says.
Beveridge began the long road back without any guarantee that she'd be the same cyclist, let alone return to the sport.
"It was a significant process that had a lot of ups and downs along the way. A couple of people told me I wasn't going to be able to come back and race again," Beveridge says.
Blessing in disguise
Beveridge missed the world championships in April but the time off may have been a blessing in disguise.
It allowed her to take a step back and reset her mind. Because of that, Beveridge says she looks at things in a different manner and has a greater appreciation for the sport.
This week, she'll lead a Canadian squad full of Olympians into a World Cup event at the Mattamy Cycling Centre in Milton, Ont. Competition begins Friday at 10 a.m. ET, and can be seen live on CBCSports.ca.
"When someone tries to take something away that you care about and pushes you out not on your own terms, that's pretty hard to get around. [But] I never really got to that point of giving up," Beveridge says.
"There were people that were able to help me through but it was hard at the same time. Coming back [after time off] does make you a bit more grateful of what you have and [to] push yourself that much more."
It was Beveridge's teammate, Duehring, who connected her to Zach Bell, the director of Rally Cycling's women's professional team.
Bell took a chance — giving Beveridge a spot on his team — and she didn't let them down, winning the 120-kilometre sprint at the Canadian road cycling championships this past June.
"It was a long year," Beveridge told Canadian Cycling magazine. "Zach [Bell] and Rally have been so good to me. They took me without really knowing where I was at and put a lot of faith in me to come back so I owe them a lot to be on this team to start with."
Beveridge rode that momentum onto the track, winning three titles at the Canadian track cycling championships in October, including the team pursuit.
But while Beveridge is proud of her national success, she has bigger ambitions for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics in three years time when she hopes to once again challenge for the top of podium in the team pursuit.
Beveridge knows not to assume things will go according to plan.
With increased funding and resources from Cycling Canada, the pool of talent has never been stronger and Beveridge is in for another battle to retain her spot.
"There's gonna be a bit of turnover from Rio but no matter who you are, you're going to be fighting for your spot. We have a dietician, sports scientists, testing facilities [and] the track full-time," Beveridge says.
"Our junior team this year at worlds rode a 4:32 which smashed the junior Canadian record by 10 or 12 seconds. Those are world class times that they're pulling out and they're gonna be [right] there [with us] in a couple of years."