How Ross Wilson helped Tristen Chernove reach Paralympic glory
1 cycling silver medallist inspired the other, now both go for gold Wednesday
RIO DE JANEIRO – Tristen Chernove's journey to a Paralympic silver medal in track cycling last week kicked into high gear shortly after a bike tour of Alberta in May 2015.
One of his companions on the journey was Matt Stirling, a videographer for Tourism Alberta who had just recently completed a project with the Alberta para-cycling team. Stirling told Chernove about the sport of para-cycling and about members of the team, specifically Edmonton's Ross Wilson.
Stirling shared that the two men both men have different forms of Charcot-Marie-Tooth Disease, a condition that causes degeneration in the lower body.
Chernove was intrigued.
A few weeks later, Chernove was perusing a magazine in a grocery store when he came across an article on Wilson that documented his quick rise to success.
"It tweaked my interest once more," said the 41-year-old. "I thought, 'hey, if I am going to be cycling to counteract the degenerative nature of this disease, maybe I should think of doing [Paralympic cyling] too."
Chernove placed a call to Arnaud Litou, the supervisor of Cycling Canada's para-cycling, high-performance program to find out more. The first-time Paralympian received an invite to compete in the national road and track championships, which took place in Thetford Mines, Que., that July.
Chernove impressed the Cycling Canada coaching staff, including his current personal coach Guillaume Plourde, with his power meter rankings in training sessions prior to the championships.
He met Wilson soon after making the Canadian team. It was a gratifying feeling for the 35-year-old Wilson, who is a Paralympic rookie himself, when he learned that he unknowingly motivated Chernove to join the Canadian para-cycling team.
"It was great," he said. "It is a nice kudos to hear that someone else read your story and thought that was something that they themselves would like to pursue and they wanted to be involved in it. It is a very nice compliment in that regard."
Although they have the same condition, the two Rio silver medallists rarely compete against each other as they have been placed in different classifications. As a C2 athlete, Chernove has been deemed to have more functional ability than Wilson, who is in the C1 sports class.
Listening to both men speak about their approach to the sport makes it very clear why Chernove would be inspired by Wilson. Both men are described by Cycling Canada coach Sébastien Travers as "professionals when it comes to getting everything done when it comes to training, volume and intensity."
Chernove and Wilson agree with their coach's assessment.
"Deep down we are 100 per cent committed to everything we do and when we set our minds to doing something there is no room for compromise," said Chernove.
Both cyclists will attempt to achieve their gold-medal goal in the men's road individual time trial on Wednesday morning at Rio's Pontal facility.
With files from the Canadian Paralympic Committee