Rosa wins her first races of season

Cool resident eyes trip to Paralympic Games
By: Justin A. Lawson Journal Sports Writer
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Thea Rosa?s first win of the season couldn?t come easy. The Cool resident, who races in the U.S. Handcycling Series, had to overcome a near dog attack and two grueling up-hill climbs, but received two wins in one day for her efforts. ?Two in one day, that was just insane,? Rosa said. ?I just felt so good and so strong. I was determined. I was like, ?You know what? I want to get at least one under my belt.?? Rosa placed first in Stages 2 and 3 at the Clocktower Classic in Rome, Ga., in the four-day event that ended April 29. The wins gave the paraplegic cyclist her first victory of the season and helped her to a second-place finish overall, just 20 seconds out of first place. On the second day of the race, Rosa was in the middle of a 36-mile road race when she reached a stretch of rolling hills where two loose dogs ran after her. She grew nervous as one appeared to go for her arm and had to punch it in the face to get away. Rosa, a lifelong horse rider, then pedaled as fast as she could before the dog could come back. ?I think it affected a little bit of my riding because I was focusing on where are they coming from? Are they going to come chase me again?? Rosa said. She went on to finish third in the stage. In the stages that Rosa won, she took advantage of her strength on the hill climbs. Her first win came on a 3-mile hill climb Saturday morning in which her steady pace took her to the finish line in 21 minutes, 13 seconds ? three seconds faster than Carrie Finale, who went on to win the overall title. Rosa also won the Downtown Criterium later that day. Rosa, who was paralyzed from her waist down eight years ago in a horse riding accident, is hoping to qualify for the 2012 Paralympic Games in London. Her next race is May 26-28 in Greenville, S.C.