Clara Brown
Team USA

One Year Out From Tokyo Paralympic Games: Meet Clara Brown

By: U.S. Paralympics Cycling  August 24, 2020

Paralympian, Mallory Weggemann, sat down with two-time World Champion and Paralympic Hopeful, Clara Brown, to talk all things Tokyo 2021!

Q: Now Clara, these are going to be your first Games. You don’t have 20 years of experience to go off or knowing how this goes. Coming in as a Paralympic hopeful, how do you think this [postponement] affects newer athletes, or is there an element of ‘ignorance is bliss?’ What has been your transition from March when everything came about to current day?

A: I think my initial instinct was, ‘Wow, this gives me another year of training. This is huge for us newer athletes.’ I had really only done one full road season with Team USA last year, and I felt like my racing interrupted my training, which is ironic. I really didn’t get a chance to see where I could be fitness-wise, so I was definitely excited to have this chunk of off-time and really commit to training hard and seeing how much I could improve with this time. It’s been really exciting to see the progress that I’ve made just this summer and comparing it to last year and knowing that hopefully I can only get stronger. There is some anxiety - I haven’t had any racing this summer, no one has – and that’s one of the biggest challenges I'm facing going into Tokyo is the lack of racing experience and the uncertainty. I don’t know what my competitors are doing, but at the same time, I'm only able to control my training and hopefully that can put me on the top.

Q: You mention controlling your training. Are there any neat, creative things you’ve been able to add into your training that you’re doing now that you would have never thought of doing before everything changed?

A: I think this time has allowed me to train in the heat. Specifically, I've been working with [USOPC] sports science through the training center, and Tokyo will be very hot and humid, especially on our road events, and so experimenting with ways to cool down. With my spinal cord injury, I have temperature regulation issues, so that’s been a huge help to experiment and see what works and how I can best stay cool during my long racing, so that’s been helpful.

Q: Clara, we were in Minneapolis in September for the announcement of Trials that would have happened this past June, and you would have hopefully been celebrating that you’re officially named to your first Paralympic Games. You touch on having the extra year and the benefit of experience that will come with that. We know that Trials will be in Minneapolis now in June of 2021...Do you feel like because of the postponement, the anticipation and excitement of hearing your name called to your first Paralympic Games is heightened, or do you think it’s matter of fact and it’s just an extra year and they’ll see you in 2021?

A: Are you kidding? The excitement is just building so much. I was an athlete growing up and always dreamed of going to the Olympics for gymnastics. Not sure how likely that would have been, but I still had a big dream, so this is just celebrating that huge accomplishment in a different avenue. It’s quite a goal and I just can’t wait to hopefully make the team. One year out gives me more motivation each day to train and solidify my spot. Hearing my name called to make Team USA and wear those three letters across your chest and have the red, white and blue...There’s a lot of pride. It’s such a symbolic moment of how much work you’ve put in to make this dream come true.

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Photo courtesy of Joe Kusumoto