Australia has a goal of becoming the number one Paratriathlon nation in the world by the year 2020 and yesterday in the hot, energy-sapping conditions of Queensland’s Sunshine Coast they showed they are well and truly on their way.
The 15-strong Australian team dominated nine of the 10 categories and showed why Paratriathlon is capturing the imagination of all in the triathlon and multi sport world.
Melbourne’s London track and field Paralympian Jack Swift, a leg amputee, led the way, with an outstanding win in his PT4 category, sending a clear message that he means business as he seeks a place on his second Paralympic team for Rio.
“The Australian team stepped up today and Jack Swift led the way,” said Triathlon Australia’s Paratriathlon Manager, Kathryn Periac.
“If I had to single someone out then it would have to be Jack’s race today, he was outstanding in a team that all did so well and in the most competitive category.
“We have a couple of sayings in the group – ‘control what you can control’ and ‘put all the cards on the table.’
“And today they put their cards on the table from those athletes who have only been with us for 12 months and some a lot less to our experienced athletes.
“This sport is all about over-coming challenges and everyone from the athletes and coaches to the teams at Triathlon Queensland, Triathlon Australia and the ITU all made it a very successful competition.
“We are all keen to put the event on again next year and that can only benefit the sport in Australia.”
Swift, who ran in the 400 and 4x100m in London and who lost the lower part of his right leg after a work accident in 2006, aged 21, stormed home to win the most competitive classification on the program, clocking 1:05.25 for the Sprint race distance of 750m swim, 20km bike and 5km run in and around the Twin Waters Resort.
The 29-year-old was dominant on the bike and proved too strong on the run for Hungary’s Peter Boronkay (1:06.13) and Denmark’s Lasse Anderson 1:08.25.
In the women’s P4 it was another Paralympian – 2004 Athens cycling silver medallist Claire McLean (1:20.29) who won the gold from team mate Kate Doughty (1:20.45) with American Judith Abrahams (1:32.42) third.
In a dominant day’s racing:
Australia’s four-time ITU World champion Billy Chaffey (1:01.10) continued on his winning ways as the world’s number one PT1 male wheelchair athlete easily accounting for Italy’s Giovanni Achenza (1:06.13) with fellow Australian Matthew Brumby taking the bronze in 1:11.42 while Brisbane’s Emily Tapp won the women’s PT1 category at only her second ever Paratriathlon, beating Spain’s 1:25.53 Eva Moral Pedero (ESP) 1:30.05
Western Australian Brant Garvey (1:16:28) overcame a swim leg which saw him veer off course for 30 metres to record his second win of the season in the PT2 category in an Australian quinella ahead of Glen Jarvis (1:19.45) and Italy’s Giovanni Sasso (1:21.37) while American Hailey Danisewicz won the P2 category for women in 1:32.32 from Rakel Uriarte (ESP) 1:35.30 and Melissa Stockwell (USA) 1:35.48.
The PT3 category for women saw another Australian quinella with Kerryn Harvey (1:26.17) upsetting WA’s reigning world champion Sally Pilbeam (1:28.03) and in the men’s Australia’s Justin Godfrey (1:19.35) was the only one to finish.
While in PT5 category for the vision impaired, noted triathlete Katie Kelly made her debut with guide Laura Cook to win the gold from Japan’s Atsuko Yamada while in the men’s division it was the experienced Jonathan Goerlach with guide Jack Bigmore who cruised to victory in 1:06.59 from Japan’s Ryu Nakazawa (1:25.23).
With six categories three for men and three for women classified for the next Paralympics and a World Paratriathlon Event Series on the ITU calendar it has added a new level of enthusiasm for athletes, coaches and triathlon federations.
ITU World Paratriathlon Event, Sunshine Coast (750m swim; 20km bike; 5km run):
PT1 Emily Tapp (AUS) 1:25.53 Eva Moral Pedero (ESP) 1:30.05 PT2 Hailey Danisewicz (USA) 1:32.32 Rakel Uriarte (ESP) 1:35.30 Melissa Stockwell (USA) 1:35.48 PT3 Kerryn Harvey (AUS) 1:26.17 Sally Pilbeam (AUS) 1:28.03 PT4 Claire McLean (AUS) 1:20.29 Kate Doughty (AUS) 1:20.458 Judith Abrahams (USA) 1:32.42 PT5 Katie Kelly (AUS) 1:11.38 Atsuko Yamada (JPN) 1:22.59
PT1 Bill Chaffey (AUS) 1:01.10 Giovanni Achenza (ITA) 1:06.13 Matthew Brumby (AUS) 1:11.42 PT2 Brant Garvey (AUS) 1:16:28 Glen Jarvis (AUS) 1:19.45 Giovanni Sasso (ITA) 1:21.37 PT3 Justin Godfrey (AUS) 1:19.35 PT4 Jack Swift (AUS) 1:05.25 Peter Boronkay (HUN) 1:06.13 Lasse Anderson (DEN) 1:08.25 PT5 Jonathan Goerlach (AUS) 1:06.59 Ryu Nakazawa (JPN) 1:25.23