Sports

Monique Sullivan and Kate O'Brien team up for journey to Rio

One was a bobsledder, the other was a self-coached cyclist. They've now joined forces to pave their road to Rio.

Self-coached cyclist and ex-bobsledder bring in gold for Cycling Canada

Canadian cyclists Kate O'Brien, left, and Monique Sullivan after winning Pan Am gold in the track cycling women's team sprint. The teammates are back on the track this weekend at the National Track Championships in Milton, Ont. (Mark Blinch/The Canadian Press)

Kate O'Brien was a bobsledder. Monique Sullivan quit cycling after coaching herself to London 2012. 

Now they're boarding together in a single bedroom in Milton, Ont., training to qualify for Rio 2016.

"We're in a team house at the moment so we share a bedroom so really its 24-7 time together," said 26-year-old Sullivan.

When asked how they escape the track while living with their sprint partner, O'Brien, also 26,  joked that they watch a lot of Netflix.

Whatever their arrangement is, it seems to be working. 

Duo wins gold at National Track Championships

This weekend at the National Track Championships, also in Milton, the duo won gold in the women's team sprint event, defending their title from 2014. They also won gold in the same event at the 2015 Pan Am Games.

"We have really similar mind sets going into the year so we've been able to keep it positive," Sullivan told CBC Sports.

The positivity is welcome to Sullivan. She almost left racing for good after the 2012 Olympics. Sullivan received some support and supervision as Canada's lone female sprinter, but was writing her own training programs when she placed sixth in the Olympic keirin final.

"After the Olympics in London, I had given it everything I had to qualify and just get there," said Sullivan. "I had nothing left."

Sullivan went back to the University of Calgary, but eventually began missing competition. In 2014, Cycling Canada's current coach Erin Hartwell convinced Sullivan to get back on the bike.

"The timing worked really well," said Sullivan. "I've always had a lot of support but now it feels like I have a bit more of a team behind me. So it does feel a lot different from what it used to."

Part of that support was the addition of bobsleigh brakeman Kate O'Brien. A torn hamstring had ended her campaign to Sochi 2014, leaving her contemplating her next steps.

"Do I wait another four years?" said O'Brien. "Do I try to become a bobsled pilot? Do I do something else? Do I do nothing?"

O'Brien enjoyed watching cycling at the Olympics, and attended a cycling camp in 2014.

"I guess that my [results] were okay and whatever so they sent me off to Los Angeles to try the track there," said O'Brien.

"They were the best [numbers] they'd ever seen," said Sullivan.

Canada Cycling to begin world cup circuit

Since teaming up in 2014, the duo hasn't looked back. They complement one another, with O'Brien contributing power training knowledge from her bobsleigh days while Sullivan brings extensive track expertise.

"There's a good balance there," said Sullivan. "So we've been able to help each other improve quite quickly."

Cycling Canada heads into the world cup circuit at the end of October. Right now, Sullivan and O'Brien are fighting for points to qualify for Team Canada, and then will fight for their individual spots on the Olympic team.

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