Canada's Tristen Chernove has had a meteoric rise in para-cycling, from attending his first national cycling championships in 2015 to winning gold, silver and bronze medals at the 2016 Rio Paralympics, then claiming five world titles on the track and road in 2017. This month, he will return to Rio de Janerio, Brazil, to defend his track titles in the C2 category at the UCI Para-cycling Track World Championships.
Chernove was diagnosed in 2009 with Charcot-Marie-Tooth (CMT) disease, a progressive neurological condition that causes atrophy of the peripheral nerves, affecting his lower legs. The degenerative but non-life threatening disease causes symptoms similar to muscular dystrophy. He had been a paddle sport athlete, and took up competitive cycling with able-bodied athletes after his diagnosis to combat the effects of his disease. Chernove believes his lifelong passion for sport and exercise has helped to slow the symptoms of CMT.
Chernove manages to compete at the highest level of his sport while also running his company, Elevate Airports Inc., which manages and operates the Canadian Rockies International Airport in Cranbrook, British Columbia, where he lives with his wife and two daughters.
When Chernove heard about another Canadian rider who had CMT and was a member of the national para-cycling team - Ross Wilson, two silver medals at the Rio Games - he contacted the Canadian team and was quickly welcomed to the squad, finishing second in his category at the 2015 national road championships.
The now 42-year-old went to his first UCI World Championships in 2016, for track in Montichiari, Italy, and won gold medals in both the individual pursuit and the 1000m time trial. A few months later, Chernove won three medals in Rio: gold in the road time trial, silver in the individual pursuit and bronze in the 1000m time trial.
He continued to rack up successes in 2017, winning a remarkable five world titles on the track and the road: 1000m time trial, individual pursuit and scratch race on the track, plus the individual time trial and road race on the road.
He says: "I've been so fortunate to have found such talented coaching support, training friends and teammates, [and] feel like they own this recognition at least as much as I do. Canada's cycling community brings me a tonne of joy and inspiration."