Former Olympian Kate O'Brien wins silver medal in cycling at Tokyo Paralympics

Five years ago, Kate O'Brien competed in the 2016 Rio Olympics as a cyclist. On Friday, she competed in the Tokyo Paralympics -- and became a medalist.

Para-cyclist O'Brien, 33, won silver in the Women's C4-5 500-meter Time Trial, finishing her race in 35.439 seconds.

In 2017, O'Brien survived a life-threatening bike crash during a cycling demonstration at an outdoor track in Calgary. She suffered broken ribs, punctured lungs and a broken clavicle, and doctors told her that she might never be able to walk or bike again.

She wanted to bike again, even if it was never in a competition, she said in a CBC interview last year.

O'Brien began rehab, which wasn't easy. She suffered from seizures. She worked with physiotherapists, who set up her bike against a wall at her home. Then, they formed a human circle around her so she would be protected in case she fell while trying to bike. Slowly, the mobility came back to her.

She decided to give para-cycling a chance. She was able to qualify for the C4 classification (for athletes with lower body impairments).

"I said 'OK, let's give this a shot,'" O'Brien told Cycling Magazine last year. "So far, it's been one of the best decisions that I've made."

In January 2020, she represented Team Canada at the UCI Para-Cycling Track World Championships, setting two world records and winning two titles.

And, today, she added a Paralympic silver medal to her accomplishments since taking up para-cycling.

"I never imagined that I would get to compete in the Paralympic Games. I wouldn't have believed anyone if they told me that I would," O'Brien wrote on Instagram this week. "I don't do well with change. But, after 33 years on this planet, I am realizing that change is inevitable, and oftentimes, amazing."