Would you tell us a little bit about your background? How long have you been cycling competitively?
My first local race was in 2010. I progressed pretty quickly and ended up racing Nationals in 2012. I would say that event really got me into racing competitively at a high level. I’ve been training and racing seriously ever since.
Tell us about your first experience riding a bike.
Like most kids I started riding when I was really young. My older brother Jim taught me to ride a bike. He took off my training wheels and taught me to ride a bike properly. That’s a memory I cherish.
The qualification window started last year. I raced a lot with the goal of peaking for the Olympic Trials. The selection is based on the discretion of a committee, so I wanted to ensure I gave them no doubt of my ability. I raced the World Championships in March, where I won the pursuit. After that, I trained hard for the trials, and came away with a win, which guaranteed my place on Team USA.
What has been your toughest obstacle in your Road to Rio?
My toughest obstacle has been the mental game. The Olympics is a big goal, but you also have to race well at the World Championships and Olympic Trials to get to Rio. Staying focused and motivated for months on end is tough and takes a lot of will power. Avoiding injuries is also really important. Staying consistent is the key, and RockTape really helps with that.
What do most people not realize about training/conditioning/rehab for para cycling?
There is always a level of discomfort* you have to work through when you’re competing at a high level with existing injuries. Those injuries make every day training and racing a little bit harder than for able bodied athletes.
What are your greatest achievements as a cyclist?
I won the 3 km individual pursuit at the World Championships in February this year. Pulling on the rainbow jersey has to be the greatest of my achievements on the bike.
I am most proud of that I taught my dog to catch a frisbee…
Who has been your sports hero?
I’ve had so many people that have mentored me along the way that picking out one person would be impossible. It really takes a team to compete at a high level. The community I have around me is what I truly value.
What do you do when you have free time?
As much as possible I like to take time away from the bike so I can relax. I catch up on sleep and relaxing, which is really important after travelling so much. I like to catch up with friends that I don’t always get to see when I’m racing. We normally just hang out and drink coffee. I also like to play with my dog. Just enjoy being at home.
What are your guilty pleasures?
Like most athletes, I think I crave junk food! Pizza and ice cream are my big guilty pleasures!
If you could only eat one thing for a month, what would it be?
I love going home because my mom is the best cook in the world. I’d just go home and eat her so it would be her homemade spaghetti for a month straight. It wouldn’t even be a challenge! She makes the noodles from scratch. It’s so good!
I really value a good recovery routine. I use Normatec compression boots a lot. I also get massages regularly, and ice baths after hard sessions too.
How did you find out about RockTape?
After joining the UnitedHealthcare Pro Cycling Team, I found that my teammates were using RockTape a lot. They would use it for prevention of injuries after hard stages. Having people to show me how it works and how to properly apply it was really helpful. I started regularly taping my knee after developing some small discomfort. It really helped, and now I can quickly wrap my knee if it’s feeling a little sore.
How do you use RockTape? How do most cyclists use tape?
My hip and knee are the main places I use the tape. If I have a little discomfort I’ll put the tape on straight away.
What is your training like?
I train every day. Sometimes I have up to three sessions a day between cycling, and strength and conditioning. I take rest days when I need them.
What do most people not know about you?
I’m pretty shy! I think when you race at a high level everyone thinks you must be really outgoing, but I’m pretty quiet. I also really like video games, and play Halo a lot! It’s an awesome thing to do that doesn’t burn a bunch of energy so I can play even when I’m training hard.
Read more about Shawn Morelli:
- Shawn Morelli Leavenworth | Cycling – TeamUSA.org
- Shawn Morelli Selected to Represent United States at 2016 Summer Paralympic Games in Rio de Janeiro
- UCI Para-cycling Track World Championships: First world track title and world record for Shawn Morelli
- Team USA wins nine medals at Para-cycling road world cup in Italy
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