McKenna Mckee blog: UCI Track World Championships debut

31 October 2022

The 2022 Elite Track World Championship has come to an end. It was an honor to represent my country, the United States of America, and everyone affected by diabetes on the world stage.  At the start of the season, I was just a first-year elite and now I have just finished my first Track World Championships.  I was the youngest female sprint cyclist to compete in the competition.  As a young female athlete myself, it has made me want to further my outreach to not just people living with diabetes, but to young female athletes as well.  Female athletes face social stigmas in cycling and sports in general. I hope my place as an ambassador on this team and as an elite female cyclist, will help bring inspiring and empowering motivation to young females around the world. 

Six weeks ago I was at training camp in Los Angeles, California preparing for the women’s team sprint at the World Championship with my teammates Keely Ainslie & Kayla Hankins.  I spent a week and a half at the Carson velodrome including the gym following the step-by-step program provided to us by USA Cycling.  Once completed, Team USA and I headed to Porto, Portugal on September 27th for a USAC super camp at the Sangalhos Velodrome in the city of Anadia, Portugal. 

This camp was a great experience and a wonderful opportunity to learn more about my fellow USAC teammates and staff including training together as one big team.  It was incredible to encounter the culture, the food, the landscape, and the welcoming people, which made for an amazing camp.  Before I knew it, we were off to Elite Track World Championships in Paris, France. This was my first trip to Europe, so I was looking forward to what was ahead.

When we arrived at the Saint-Quentin-en-Yvelines Velodrome in Paris where we immediately got our road bikes built up so we could see the inside of the velodrome. It was love at first sight as it is arguably the best velodrome in the world. The track is 250m with an 8-meter drop from the top of the bank to the bottom of it.  The velodrome is one inch steeper than most velodromes in the world.  The air density was monitored each day to ensure the proper racing conditions all week long. 

Going into my first Track World Championship was indeed something I have been craving for a long time.  It was an absolute honor and privilege to race in the stars and stripes with a very inspiring team by my side.  Going into race days, the atmosphere was starting to feel real.  It no longer was a surreal experience, this was reality.   My first competition was on Wednesday 12 October. This was the day of our team sprint and it was time to put all our hard work to use.  Unfortunately, we ended up slotting into 9th place overall.  

Despite that, I am super proud of what we women accomplished considering this was our first World Championships together as a team and a new PB for the three of us.  My final race was on Thursday 13 October with the Sprint Tournament.  Sprint always has a lot that goes into effect, especially at World Championships. I ended up finishing 33rd place. I will be honest I wasn’t happy with my result considering I was unable to beat my PB.  However, what an opportunity it was to line up against the best female sprinters in the world. 

For me, that was an accomplishment within itself.  I feel I learned some of the most valuable lessons in my racing career thus far and I cannot wait for what’s next.  There is a lot of work to do, nonetheless, I am optimistic about the journey and process of it. In Ttown this summer I had no idea that my 2022 track season would be concluded by competing in my first World Championships. 

While I was there I was able to see type one Polish rider Mateusz Rudyk race in the Team Sprint and Sprint Tournament, where he came in 5th and 4th after some incredible rides.  It was unreal to not be the only person living with diabetes showing the world that we can drive change toward a bigger and brighter future. Diabetes does not define us, better yet, we define it.  We are stronger together without a doubt and I cannot wait for what the future has in store for this team. 

Photo credit: Casey Gibson 

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