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Car park turns could lead to podium places for paratriathletes

Car park turns could lead to podium places for paratriathletes

A large contingent of Australia’s Elite, Under 23s and Juniors as well as the fast improving paratriathletes have been preparing together in Spain – a first for Triathlon Australia.

But it’s a plan that is already showing that the integration of Australia’s triathletes is proving to be hugely successful.

Under the watchful eye and direction of newly appointed Performance Director Justin Drew, Australia’s coaches are working together to get the absolute best out of their athletes.

Gold Coast-based Paratriathlon/ Elite Under 23 Development 

Program coach Dan Atkins, admitted it was somewhat of a gamble taking the elite paratriathletes into the Vitoria-based training camp for the first time – but it has been a huge success.

And it could well be a case of taking the bikes from the car park straight to the podium.

Turner set up a car park practice in his head quarters in Vitoria-Gasteiz, basically to replicate what will be a very tight, technical bike course for all competitors in Rotterdam.

“The group really engulfed ourselves in Jamie Turner’s program; our paratriathletes were there to learn, to explore and to value add with specific training to set ourselves up for Rotterdam and we can’t thank Jamie enough,” said Atkins.

“The car park session was set up specific to Rotterdam and I wanted to expose them to that and watch the Elites before the para team started throwing themselves all over the course, much to the amazement of the elites.

“The Rotterdam course will have 120 turns per lap and we had some 30 turns every 90 seconds, assimilating that course; really trying to make sure these athletes are set up for this race from the clothing they’ll wear to the weather they’ll expect; wearing wetsuits in a lot more swim sessions that has really put us in a good place for the world titles.”

Melbourne-based Rio Paralympian Kate Doughty is sure to make it tough for the three Rio medallists, Grace Norman (USA), Lauren Steadman (GB) and Gwladys Lemoussu (FRA) in the PTS5 category.

The 2015 World Championship bronze medallist, who finished fifth in Rio, has been based in Girona with coach Danielle Stefano since the Edmonton WPS. 

Australia will be well represented in the vision impaired classes led by Rio golden girl Katie Kelly (B3) and guide Michellie Jones – the 2015 World Champions and Rio 2016 Paralympic Champions face a 2017 field with a mix of established Paralympic and World Championships medallists and newcomers starting their journey towards Tokyo 2020.

Jonathan Goerlach (B2) with guide Simon Hearne (coach Luke Whitmore) is one of the pioneers in Australian Paratriathlon who first raced at ITU World Championships in 2012.  This will be his fifth World Championships for Australia.

The class also includes Sunshine Coast’s Gerrard Gosens (B1) and guide Dmitri Simons in their first World Championships, although Gerrard has competed in World Championships and Paralympic Games in athletics for many years.

Two-time world champion, arm amputee Sally Pilbeam’s PTS4 class is one that has had the most change in the latest revision of the ITU classification system and she now competes mostly with a different group of athletes than those she did previously.

Sally was a silver medallist at 2016 World Championships, and unfortunately her then PT3 class was not included in the Rio program.

This will be her fifth World Championships for Australia, her first was 2013.  She has two golds (2015 and 2014) as well as the 2016 silver to be one of the most successful Australian paratriathletes ever.

In the PTS3 Albury’s Justin Godfrey’s class was not included in the Rio program so he focussed on his first love in 2016, which is mountain biking and cross triathlon, winning the World Championships at Lake Crackenback, and defeating all other paratriathletes even those in higher functioning classes.

This will be Justin’s fourth World Championships, with his best result a bronze medal in 2015.

In the PTS2 WA’s Paralympian Brant Garvey will line up in his fourth World Championships, and he was also in the Australian team for the debut of paratriathlon at the Rio Paralympic Games.

As well as preparing for Rotterdam, Brant is also very excited for the birth of his first child next month, his wife Nat this time will be cheering him from home in Perth.

The start list is almost identical to the Rio Paralympic start list, with the gold and bronze medallists Andrew Lewis (GB) and Mohamed Lahna (ITU) as well as Mark Barr (USA) and Stephane Bahier (FRA) from the top five in Rio.

In the PTWC, wheel chair category, Canberra-based Queenslander Emily Tapp (PTWC1) will contest her second World Championships, her first was 2015 where she was the silver medallist.

As there was no female PTWC event in Rio, Emily switched to athletics, and was selected for the Australian Team for Rio.  An injury prevented her competing.

Emily has won the Gold Coast and Edmonton WPS races in 2017, and has achieved the automatic selection for the 2018 Commonwealth Games Team, where the PTWC women and men have full medal status. 

Nic Beveridge (PTWC1) has been on a steady improvement curve since his Australian Team debut in 2013.  Rotterdam will be his 5th World Champs.

His highest placing at Worlds to date is ninth and he also finished ninth in the Rio Paralympic Games.

There is one more definite slot for the Australian Team for the Commonwealth Games to be filled and Nic is one of the leading contenders for this.  The decision will be made early February, with the Australian qualifying period ending January 31st 2018. 

SA’s Scott Crowley (PTWC2) is back in Rotterdam after his first World Championships were last year where he finished 9th. Scott finished eighth the Gold Coast WPS.