Kelly Crowley of Redwood City thought her Paralympic chances ended last month when she didn't get nominated to the U.S. cycling team despite winning the time trial and road race in her category at the national championships.
But Crowley learned this week that the International Cycling Union invited her to the London Paralympic Games, Aug. 29-Sept. 9.
"It was really gratifying to hear, 'Your performances were recognized,' because I worked so hard to overcome so many obstacles in trying to get to the Games as a cyclist," she said. "And it almost didn't work out -- again."
Crowley, a two-time Paralympic gold medalist in swimming, was hoping to compete at the Beijing Games after being the 2007 world time trial champion. But she got knocked out of contention when suffering injuries in a crash while training at the Home Depot Center velodrome in early 2008.
The crash came less than a year after Crowley got clipped by a car on Highway 1 while returning from a training ride in San Francisco. She suffered a concussion after hitting the back of her head.
Crowley, a Sacred Heart Prep graduate born without an elbow and three fingers on her right arm, still qualified for the world championships.
But her chances ended in Carson when getting tangled with a teammate at slow speed. Crowley punctured a lung, cracked a rib and hit her head on the track. She suffered another concussion.
"When I gave up my spot on the national team, I thought I was done with bikes, with anything remotely physically stressful," said Crowley, 35. "But once I started riding again, I saw how much stronger I was, and I decided to try to make a comeback."
The former Santa Clara valedictorian returned to the national team in late 2010 after finishing third at the Para-cycling World Championship Road Race in Canada. Crowley joined the Primal/Map My Ride women's team in 2011.
"You can't ever give up," Crowley said. "And, at the end of the day, you have to be able to stand there and say I'm proud of what I've accomplished, regardless of whatever honors are bestowed on me or not, and what I did to get back to a competitive place in my sport, I'm really proud of that."
Crowley plans to enter the Cascade Classic starting July 17 before joining the U.S. Para-cycling team for a training camp ahead of the London Games.
Contact Elliott Almond at 408-920-5865 and follow him on Twitter at twitter.com/elliottalmond.