Penn State contingent brings home pair of golds from Paralympics in Rio

Shawn Morelli wins two golds in cycling; Emily Frederick competes in shot put

Shawn Morelli, a 1998 graduate of Penn State Behrend, won two gold medals in cycling at the Paraylmpic Games in Rio de Janeiro. She took up the sport after being injured during a U.S. Army deployment to Afghanistan. Credit: Penn StateCreative Commons

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — Penn State graduate Shawn Morelli captured a pair of gold medals and freshman Emily Frederick competed in the shot put at the 2016 Paralympics, which concluded Sept. 18 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

Morelli, a soccer student-athlete who turned to cycling after being injured by a bomb blast in Afghanistan, won the first U.S. gold medal at the 2016 Paralympics on Sept. 8 in the women’s C4 3,000-meter individual pursuit, a track cycling race. A Penn State Behrend graduate, Morelli finished in 3:59.407, more than four seconds ahead of her closest competitor.

Morelli captured her second gold on Sept. 14, winning the women’s C4 time trial with a time of 29:45.40, beating the runner-up, Team USA’s Megan Fisher, by 30 seconds.

A Saegertown native, Morelli played soccer and softball at Penn State Behrend. Morelli is a U.S. Army veteran. While deployed as an engineer officer in Afghanistan in 2007, she was seriously injured by an improvised explosive device.

Frederick, who began classes on the University Park campus Aug. 22, represented Penn State’s Ability Athletics program in the shot put. Teri Jordan is the Ability Athletics coach and she also attended the Paralympics to work with Frederick.

A kinesiology student from Gadsden, Alabama, Frederick finished ninth in the women’s shot put – F40 competition on Sept. 11.

In addition to Frederick and Morelli, Penn State was represented at the Paralympics by nine students and four faculty members from the College of Communications, including Dean Marie Hardin, who helped cover the games for The Associated Press. Among the nine students from the John Curley Center for Sports Journalism was Brett Gravatt, a member of the Penn State men’s soccer team who suffered a spinal injury in a 2014 accident. Also a member of Penn State’s Ability Athletics program, he finished fourth in the 100- and 400-meter wheelchair dashes at the 2016 U.S. Paralympics Trials.

For more information on Penn State Ability Athletics, contact Teri Jordan, the coach and disability rec program coordinator, at 814-863-8375 or

Last Updated September 30, 2016