Amelia Walsh, BMX rider, back on Canadian cycling team

After being dropped by the Canadian Cycling team in March, Amelia Walsh is back and eager to compete for Canada at the Pan Am Games.

'Lone Wolf' more motivated than ever to make her mark

Canadian BMX cyclist Amelia Walsh (left) and teammate Daina Tuchscherer are representing Canada at the Pan Am Games in Toronto. ((Mike Brophy))

Her name is Amelia Walsh and she was named after Amelia Earhart.

These days, though, she prefers to go by the name of "The Lone Wolf."

That's because Walsh, 22, was dropped from the Canadian cycling team and lost her funding at the end of March before the federation wasn't happy with her recent results. She had traveled to New Zealand to train when she got the bad news.

Like Earhart, the first female to fly across the Atlantic Ocean solo who disappeared July 2, 1937, Walsh also disappeared.

"I was pretty cut," Walsh said. "I thought leading up to the Olympics this would be my year and I would have a lot of support. It was a shock — a reality check."

Walsh said being dropped from the team has made her more motivated and determined than ever to be the best she can be.

Staying sharp

She relocated to California and worked without a coach, albeit with many of the best riders in the world, at the Olympic Training Center for a month.

"I was on my own with no guidance whatsoever so it was just me trying to figure out what I needed to work on," Walsh said.

Watching her daughter at the BMX Time Trials at Centennial Park in Etobicoke, Ont., Friday afternoon, Amelia's mother, Cathy Walsh, fights back tears when asked about her daughter being dropped from the team.

Cathy and her husband, Gary, are volunteers at the BMX event.

"It was really hard," Cathy Walsh said. "I get choked up about it."

As her daughter whips around the track — one of the best tracks in the world according to Cathy — she bobs and weaves with Amelia's every turn.

"I almost throw up when she is out there," Cathy said. "I get really, really nervous."

Cathy said she doesn't care how her daughter does as long as she is safe and then amends that statement. "I do care how she does," Cathy said with a smile.

Good news

After placing first at nationals last Sunday in Quebec, Walsh got the good news that she was back on the Canadian team — still without funding, though. Her parents are helping her cover expenses.

"It doesn't change much to be honest," Walsh said. "It's great to have Cycling Canada behind me. I have always know they are there and they want the best for me. It's great to be back in the team environment and hanging out with the people I grew up with."

Walsh completed the course in 43.43 seconds, placing ninth, while her teammate, Daina Tuchscherer finished 10th at 43.44.

"It was okay," Walsh said of her run. "I messed up my gate a little bit which is one my strongest points. I came out sideways so I was bummed about that. My first straight was really good; I was really happy with it. On the second straight I missed a couple of pedals which took a little speed out of my run. Overall I was okay with it. I was happy to come out clean and move on to tomorrow."

The BMX medal event will be held Sunday at Centennial Park.


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