Kelsey Marie Mitchell, cyclist (born 26 November 1993 in Brandon, MB). At the 2020 Olympic Summer Games in Tokyo, Kelsey Mitchell became only the second Canadian ever to win an Olympic gold medal in cycling. She won in the women’s sprint track cycling event, the same event in which Lori-Anne Muenzer won gold at the 2004 Olympics. Mitchell also won gold at the 2019 Pan American Games and set a world record in the women’s 200 m sprint (10.154 seconds) later that year. A lifelong multi-sport athlete and a former university soccer all-star, Mitchell only took up cycling in 2017.
Childhood and Family
Kelsey Mitchell is the middle child of Val and Brent Mitchell. She has an older sister, Erin, and a younger brother, Colin. Val works in communications for Suncor Energy, while Brent is a chemical engineer with the company.
As a child, Kelsey participated in a variety of sports, including soccer, basketball, ringette, judo, gymnastics, handball and volleyball. She had the most success playing soccer, which she began playing at age four. Her parents thought it was a good sport for Kelsey because she was very energetic as a child. “My days were school, sports, sports, sleep, and I loved every minute of it,” she said in an April 2021 interview. “My parents were the best, and always so supportive, so I think loving sports as much as I did and having my parents be there for me every step of the way, really made me have such a positive relationship with sport.”
University Soccer Player
A 2011 graduate of Salisbury Composite High School in Sherwood Park, Alberta, Mitchell played women’s soccer at the University of Alberta and at the Northern Alberta Institute of Technology (NAIT). Mitchell and her University of Alberta Pandas won the Canada West Women’s Soccer Championship in 2013 and finished third that year at the Canadian Interuniversity Sport (CIS) Women’s Soccer Championship. In 2015, she and the NAIT Ooks won silver at the 2015 Canadian Collegiate Athletic Association Women’s Soccer Championship, where Mitchell was named to the tournament all-star team. She graduated from NAIT in 2016 with diplomas in Instrumentation Technology and Personal Fitness Training.
Pursuing an Athletic Career
After graduating in 2017, Mitchell travelled through Southeast Asia for three months. When she returned to Alberta, she worked as a truck driver. However, she had a strong desire to continue her athletic path. “I just wasn’t ready to be done with competitive sports,” she told Scott Messenger of Techlifetoday. Through online research, she learned about the RBC Training Ground talent identification program, and flew to Toronto for a session.
The day before leaving, Mitchell attended a spin cycling class led by Lori-Ann Muenzer, who won gold in women’s sprint cycling at the 2004 Olympic Summer Games in Athens. What Muenzer remembered most about their brief encounter was Mitchell’s high level of confidence. According to Terry Jones of the Edmonton Sun, Muenzer remembers Mitchell telling her, “‘I’m going to go to the Olympics.’”
At the RBC Training Ground session, Mitchell’s performance on the stationary bike impressed Cycling Canada representatives. Kurt Innes, the RBC Training Ground Technical Lead, was very impressed with Mitchell’s skill set. He told Paula Nichols of olympic.ca, “Her vertical jump score was fantastic, and her six-second bike score was like holy cow.… She set not the national record, but the second-best six-second bike sprint that I’ve ever seen.”
Mitchell’s first big lesson was learning to ride the steep curves in a velodrome. But she went on to win the national women’s sprint title at the 2018 Canadian Cycling Championships in Milton, Ontario. At the 2019 Pan American Games in Lima, Peru, Mitchell won gold in the women’s individual sprint, as well as silver in the team sprint with Amelia Walsh. At the 2019 Pan American Track Cycling Championships in Cochabamba, Bolivia, Mitchell set a world record in the women’s 200 m sprint with a time of 10.154 seconds.
In Hong Kong on 30 November 2019, Mitchell won her first World Cup women’s track cycling medal by winning bronze. She also won two silver medals in women’s track cycling at World Cup events in Cambridge, New Zealand on 7 December 2019, and in Milton on 25 January 2020. At the 2020 World Cup, she also won her first gold medal with Lauriane Genest in the women’s team sprint.
2020 Olympic Summer Games
The 2020 Olympic Summer Games in Tokyo were delayed a year because of the COVID-19 pandemic. On 7 August 2021, Mitchell recorded the second-fastest qualifying time (10.346 seconds) before going on to win the gold medal with times of 10.906 and 10.995 seconds.
See also Competitive Cycling in Canada.