Tristen Chernove proud of special bond with mother
Para-cyclist won silver at debut Games
RIO DE JANEIRO — First-time Paralympic cyclist Tristen Chernove's head was in constant motion as he spoke to media following a silver medal win in the C2 3000-metre individual pursuit on Thursday.
He was looking up at the stands of the Rio Olympic Velodrome hoping to locate someone special to him. A warm, wide smile came upon his face as he finally spotted his mother, Malerie Meeker.
A few minutes after this touching moment, Chernove and Meeker had their first face-to-face encounter in Rio in the velodrome's mixed press zone.
They embraced immediately.
"My mom has been a constant staple of my whole life," the 41-year-old said. "We're a lot alike in many ways, and I am just really proud that I can follow her lead because many of her best qualities are my best qualities."
The modest Meeker said she cannot take credit for her son's journey to Paralympic glory.
"My children are all unique and amazing, and Tristen just has this vision of maybe after cycling he'll go after world peace, I don't know," she said with a laugh. "He might change the world because of his 'I can do it' attitude."
Mother inspired by son
Mother and son also share the neurological disorder Charcot-Marie-Tooth Disease, known as CMT. Chernove was diagnosed in 2009. This inherited disorder, which caused nerve damage to his knees, was passed down by Meeker, who did not experience any of the symptoms herself.
Doctors advised Chernove, then a competitive kayak racer, to scale back on his active lifestyle. The Cranbrook, B.C., native refused to let this happen. He became a cyclist in the hopes that plenty of pressure on his legs would slow the breakdown of his lower body.
Chernove has accomplished that goal and more. He didn't have a concept of what competitive para-cycling entailed when he first heard about it while on a bike trip to Alberta in May 2015. 18 months later, he's a Paralympic Games silver medallist.
Count Meeker among the many in Chernove's life that are invigorated by his example.
"I am really pleased with the results Tristen's getting because I think it is an indication to a lot of people with CMT that if you stay fit, healthy and active, the world's your oyster."
Both mother and son are excited to be together in an environment where there is inspiration everywhere you look.
"When I look back at the event is when it will make the biggest impact to know she was here with me at that time," Chernove said. "We can talk about that experience and what it meant for me to have her with me at that time and to have that common thing we shared together will be really great."
With files from the Canadian Paralympic Committee