Pan American Continental Championships
07 September 2022
A dream come true and yet another goal to check off. At just 18 years of age, I raced as one of the youngest athletes to represent Team USA at the Pan Am Championships, including the first female from my hometown of Portland, Oregon. It truly is an honor and a fulfilling experience to represent your home country. Growing up, I always watched World Cups and Olympic events across various sports and felt secondhand joy from just being a spectator to those athletes who were competing for my home country. But to be the athlete myself, now that’s an experience I will cherish forever.
After my UCI racing block was completed in Ttown Pennsylvania, I was invited out of just six female athletes to fly over to LA where there would be a Pan Am selection camp to see which athletes would be selected to compete at the Pan Am Championships. This summer has been a significant learning experience for me, and going into camp made me realize how amazing this opportunity would be for me to learn more alongside fellow competitors that I haven’t yet had the opportunity to work alongside in my cycling career thus far. After about a week and a half of training in LA, the selection team was announced. It was an honor to be selected, however, there was a lot more work we had to do. For the next three weeks, we did a lot of team training sessions, and then the next thing we were off to Lima, Peru. We arrived five days before the competition to get familiar with the track and its atmosphere.
August 10th was the first day of the competition. The first event up was the team sprint qualifiers with Keely Kortman, Kayla Hankins, and me (McKenna McKee). Today was the day, and sure enough, we made it into round one. For the next race, the order was Keely Kortman, Mandy Marquardt, and me. After round one we qualified for the final bronze ride after riding my heart out two position three rides which are essentially 750m back to back. The final ride was raced by Keely Kortman, Kayla Hankins, and Mandy Marquardt who clocked in at 48.903 just barely missing the bronze medal by a few hundredths of a second from Columbia. Racing alongside these incredible women was amazing. But to be racing with my fellow teammate Mandy from Team Novo Nordisk at my very first Pan American Championship was such a surreal experience. To both be living and racing with type 1 diabetes and racing at such a high level of sport is driving the change we need for people living with diabetes. There are no limits to what we can set out to do because we are stronger together. I am honored to be a tribute to the diabetes community and will continue to inspire, educate and empower everyone affected by diabetes.
August 11th was sprint day. Something about that day stuck out to me. I felt super alert and in tune with my body. Managing diabetes on top of competing at a high level isn’t always easy but I find that during competition it is especially crucial to stick to what I knew and what worked best for me. After looking at the starting list I was 14th to go out. This gave me a little bit more time. However, sure enough, it was time to go. Once pushed up onto the track my brain went tunnel-visioned and everything became muscle memory. Sure enough, I looked at the time and saw a huge PB for myself. I narrowly missed being the fastest qualifying American rider by 0.002s. Going into the 1/16th rounds of sprints I made a few mistakes that cost me moving into the 1/8th rounds of sprints but the mistakes I learned racing the Pan American Championships were the highlight of my summer. Just being able to race alongside some of the fastest riders in the world has shown me that anything is possible if you stay true to yourself and trust the process. As Olympic qualifications become more vital, so do all these opportunities and experiences. The USA Cycling team of staff and Coaches have been extremely helpful and I’m optimistic to see what is next for Team USA. Not to mention what’s next for Team Novo Nordisk as we continue to drive change and raise diabetes awareness around the globe.
I am excited for what’s to come as this season is far from over. Within the next few weeks, I’ll be heading back to LA for the World’s Selection Camp. I will be sure to keep you all posted!
August 10 – Pan American Track Cycling Championships – Team Sprint, 4th
August 12 – Pan American Track Cycling Championships – Sprint, 12th with a huge PBPan American
Track Cycling Championships: Campeonato Panamericano de Pista 2022
Photo Credits: Legodo