Track cycling is not a sport for the faint of heart. Kelsey Mitchell, a former Suncor summer student at the Edmonton Refinery, can reach speeds up to 70 km/h during a race. Currently Kelsey, is preparing to compete in the Tokyo 2020 Summer Games for Team Canada on the track cycling team in both the sprint and keirin competitions. 

We know we’ll be cheering on Kelsey and our other Team Canada athletes this summer, but no one will be cheering louder for Kelsey than her Mom – Val Mitchell, a Suncor employee at the Edmonton Refinery. With a sport all about speed, Val knows it will be an emotional moment.

“I’m extremely proud, but also terrified at the same time,” says Val. “Speed is dangerous and other than a helmet, track cyclists don’t wear a lot of protective gear – so while I am loudly screaming ‘Gooooooo, Kelsey,’ I am also saying silently ‘be careful!’”

If all goes according to plan, Kelsey will compete Aug. 4 to 8 in Tokyo. “COVID-19 has definitely made the past year interesting, and remaining focused has been challenging at times,” she says. “With racing on pause, Team Canada has been training heavily and I was even able to take my team for a ride past the refinery when we were in town – a little trip down memory lane.”

Remaining motivated over the past year has been tough for many. For Kelsey, she looks to her family and friends for inspiration and support. “I have teammates – past and present – that inspire me daily,” says Kelsey. “There is no better motivation for me than when I am struggling during a workout and look over to see my teammates dripping in sweat struggling as well.” 

Val, Brent and Kelsey at the finish line in Lima 2019.
Val, Brent and Kelsey at the finish line in Lima 2019. Credit: Dave Holland.

Val and her husband Brent, also a former Suncor employee, have had the chance to watch Kelsey compete in a few competitions already including: the 2018 Nationals in Milton, Ont.; 2019 Pan AM Games in Lima, Peru; and the 2020 Track Cycling World Championships in Berlin, Germany. While the proud parents always enjoy dressing up in Canuck colours and waving the flag as they watch Kelsey race – unfortunately, overseas spectators will not be allowed at the Games, which is heartbreaking for Val. Still, she’s making the best of it.

“I am trying to decide if renting one of those outdoor inflatable movie screens in August would annoy our neighbours at 4 a.m.” she says with a laugh. 

Brent, Kelsey and Val at the 2019 Pan AM Games in Lima.
Brent, Kelsey and Val at the 2019 Pan AM Games in Lima.

Val has always been Kelsey’s #1 fan. “My mother is something special – I don’t know how she has more hours in the day than everyone else but somehow she still manages to do it all,” says Kelsey. “Growing up she would work full-time, helped to raise three kids, volunteer and still make it to my sporting events to cheer me on.” 

Mothers…we know them, we are them, we appreciate them. Take a moment on Sunday, May 9 to reach out and say thank you to the moms in your life. 

Val (left) and Kelsey (right) in front of the Edmonton Refinery.
Val (left) and Kelsey (right) in front of the Edmonton Refinery.