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Kelly strikes gold at Yokohama season opener

Kelly strikes gold at Yokohama season opener

Katie Kelly has made no secret of her intentions for the 2021 season in her return to the reinvigorated World Triathlon Para Series in Yokohama this morning, taking home a confident victory and valuable Paralympic Qualification points in the Women’s PTVI class.

Putting together a strong and synchronised race, Kelly and Guide Briarna Silk led from start to finish to take home the gold medal and put themselves one step closer towards securing a place at Tokyo later this year.

Speaking to Triathlon Australia, Kelly said that she was really pleased with her performance in Yokohama today.

“It’s a real privilege to be racing at this level again, it’s been a while coming. I am so grateful to World Triathlon and Japanese Government for putting this on in these challenging times,” Kelly said.
“We’re happy with the output today with some good improvements overall, particularly the bike. Bri [Guide] rode that course so well, and given we had no bike famil, and it is quite technical in parts, the cornering and technique was superb.”
“I felt excited to be on that start line and lining up again with my competitors on the international stage is a real buzz. Hopefully I’ve now put myself in a good position to secure nomination for the Tokyo 2020 Paralympics.”

Although it initially appeared that Kelly had finished in second, Annouck Curzillat (FRA) was disqualified following the morning’s events, promoting Kelly to first place.

Meanwhile in the Men’s PTS4, Clint Pickin recorded his best World Triathlon Para Series result to date, taking a commendable fourth in Yokohama.

Pickin kept his competition honest the entire way, laying down some strong times across all three disciplines to record a personal best finish position among a classy field. France’s Alexis Hanquinquant took home line honours. 

In the World Triathlon Championship Series Elite Women’s racing, Natalie Van Coevorden built on her strong 2020 results to take home an honourable 15th amongst a quality field. 

Despite a challenging swim, Van Coevorden found herself among a hard-working pack on the bike. With the group two minutes down on breakways Taylor Knibb (USA) and Maya Kingma (NED) at the end of the bike, Van Coevorden positioned herself well to hang tough and run into 15th.

Emma Jackson battled unfortunate mechanical difficulties on the bike to run home to 38th. 

Taylor Knibb (USA) put on a clinic in Yokohama this afternoon to take the win in 01:54:27. Making the decision to breakaway from the main group on the bike with Maya Kingma (NED), Knibb rode and ran well to put herself first across the line in Yokohama. Fellow countrywoman Summer Rappaport pushed hard to run into second, with Kingma holding on for third. 

It wasn’t to be for the Australian Elite Men in Yokohama, with both Aaron Royle and Jake Birtwhistle retiring from the race. Norway’s Kristian Blummenfelt showed that his strong 2020 form hadn’t swayed over the break, taking out of the first World Triathlon Championship Series event of the season in 1:44:55. 

The World Triathlon circuit now heads to Europe, with the 2021 World Triathlon Cup Lisbon next weekend.

World Triathlon Para Series
Full Results

1st - Katie Kelly (Women’s PTVI)
4th – Clint Pickin (Men’s PST4)

World Triathlon Championship Series

Elite Women
Full Results

15th – Natalie Van Coevorden
38th – Emma Jackson

Elite Men
Full Results

DNF – Aaron Royle
DNF – Jake Birtwhistle

Photo credit: World Triathlon