Simcoe County residents will be able to cheer on one of their own during the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games.
Peter Disera from Horseshoe Valley will be representing Canada in the men's mountain biking competition on July 26 at 2 a.m. (EST).
The 26-year-old was selected to Canada’s Olympic team after going through a gruelling two-year selection process that was capped off with him finishing 6th at the World Cup in July of 2019.
Disera is the only representative of Canada who will be competing in the men’s mountain biking event.
“It’s a super cool opportunity that is very humbling and unique,” Disera told OrilliaMatters during a break from training in Europe.
Disera has been mountain biking professionally for over 10 years. He’s been on World Cup podiums, he’s been crowned a national champion a dozen times, and now he gets to scratch the Olympic Games off of his impressive list of accomplishments.
“It’s a unique next step that doesn’t come around very often, and it definitely comes with a unique set of circumstances this year with the pandemic,” he said.
Disera’s Olympic journey started when his family moved to Horseshoe Valley from Bradford when he was in Grade 5.
“Having access to Hardwood Ski and Bike and Simoce County Forests gave me huge opportunities. The Wednesday night race series (at Hardwood) is how I even got into racing, and then I went into the development program, got experience in a competitive environment, developed as an athlete, and the gears started to click for me,” he explained.
“I honestly don’t know if I would be where I am now without that sort of mixing pot of cycling and high-performance experiences.”
Disera says growing up in Horseshoe Valley prepared him for his Olympic moment, and now he’s ready to seize the opportunity.
“I’m excited for this opportunity. I’m nervous, but I think I’m ready for it,” he said.
“I was blessed with having an additional year to prepare for it, and now I have the opportunity to do this and put my best foot forward.”
The COVID-19 pandemic stood in the way of Disera realizing his Olympic dreams last year, and it is still presenting challenges for athletes today as Tokyo recently declared a state of emergency and has barred fans from events.
Despite the uncertain environment, Disera says he feels safe enough to focus on the task at hand.
“This is one of the biggest events in the world and all the appropriate measures that are required will be taken,” he said.
Disera notes that he has been fully vaccinated, athletes are being tested routinely, and they are staying within a tight social bubble.
“I’m sort of getting into the routine and getting educated on what some of those procedures are going to be to help keep everyone safe,” he said.
During the Olympic Games fans will not be present at competition venues to cheer on the athletes, which is something Disera has become used to over the past year.
“We’ve had World Cup events where there is nobody there except for the riders and team staff, and then two weeks ago I competed at a World Cup in France where there was a restricted number of fans that felt like a typical event,” he explained.
“It’s going to be interesting to see what it’s like. It might be eerily quiet, maybe they will pump crowd noise into the venue, but either way I’m not too concerned. I’ll be comfortable in either environment.”
While there will be no fans in the stands, Disera says he will carry the support of everyone cheering for him back home.
“It’s super cool to be a part of the cycling community back home; I feel well supported on this journey,” he said.
“When I’m back in the area visiting my parents or competing at national events at Hardwood I’d love for everyone to come say hi, and I’d like to thank them for the support.”