By Bob Kirkpatrick
Aaron Keith, the owner of Woodinville Pain and Relief Clinic, will forever have his name etched in the history books after earning a Silver Medal in the Men’s Time Trial C1 event at the Paralympic Games held in Tokyo Aug. 24–Sept. 5.
“The Games are like no other competition. In Tokyo, the amount of attention with media, security, tension and the number of athletes was like nothing I had seen before,” Keith said. “The logistics with quarantine due to the pandemic were very strict. I was amazed by the level of competition and how every athlete had raised their level to compete on the world’s biggest stage.”
Keith competed in six events in Tokyo. He placed 5th in the 3 Kilometer Individual Pursuit, 5th in the Team Sprint, 10th in the 1 Kilometer Time Trial, and 2nd in the 16 Kilometer Time Trial and 22nd in the Road Race.
He said he was incredibly nervous about his chances in the road Time Trial C1 event after participating in the velodrome portion of the Games.
“For the past several years, I’ve been racing during the winter months on the US Paracycling track. During the summer months, I’d race on the road. Those were the two events that I had the best chance at winning a medal,” Keith said. “So, it was difficult to focus on the individual pursuit on the velodrome and the road time trial during the same training block.”
Keith said he won the World Road Time Trial in 2019 held in Emmen, Netherlands, but with everyone’s ability at such a high level in Tokyo, he wasn’t sure where he’d finish.
“I was in shock to learn I had medaled,” Keith said. “No one could tell me what color it was since the athletes all leave and finish the start/finish area at different times. So, I was elated to find out I had won a Silver medal and not disappointed whatsoever about being so close to the top step of the podium.”
Keith didn’t have much in the way of advice to give other paraplegic athletes who may want to compete on the Paralympic level, but he does, however, encourage all to be as active as possible.
“Ten years ago, when I first learned about Paralympic athletes, there was little known about their sport and how to get involved. Now, with information available so easily, and more exposure from the media, I hope that anyone and everyone will get involved in some way,” Keith said. “It doesn’t have to be competing. Hopefully, people will get out and enjoy the outdoors through cycling or whatever activity they gravitate toward because I spent a lot of time pondering whether or not I could do something and not enough time acting. If I can do it, you can—so get out there and soak it up!”