Never-say-die Tokyo Paralympic silver medallist Lauren Parker has again defied her doctors and overcome the odds to win her wheelchair class in today’s Oceania Paratriathlon Cup in Devonport, showing why she is one of Australia’s toughest athletes.
The 33-year-old wheelchair triathlete had to ensure her recently skin grafted foot was safe and completely dry, as she prepared for a 750m swim, before the 20km hand cycle and a final five kilometres in her racing wheelchair.
Three layers of special coverings under knee length waterproof booties provided the necessary protection in training and in today’s race.
It was all this single-mind world champion needed before being carried into the Devonport surf by her expert handler Dave Robertson for the start of the race.
“I haven't had the best preparation with a lot of ups and downs, suffering further burns to my foot after recovering from five months of dealing with third degree burns to my toes suffered in the US,” said Parker, who has a steely reserve to get the job done.
“I’m actually lucky to still have my toes and I just recently had the skin grafts on my foot only a week and a half ago.
“So I've had to deal with that during the race today and make sure you know, the skin grafts were safe and covered and fully waterproofed in the swim.
“I make it possible and I always find a way to get it done even though I've had a lot of injuries like that. I'm happy to be here and have the opportunity to race because I haven't raced since November.
“But it is what I love for sure, I'm a racer and I just love being a triathlete and racing and that's what, what I what I do, I love it and I love being here in Devonport.”
Meanwhile Tokyo vision impaired Paralympic runner Sam Harding has shown why he is regarded as “the real deal” with his switch to Paratriathlon in Devonport.
Harding, with guide Luke Harvey scored their first win in their first race together, winning the Oceania Cup in fine style despite dropping a chain on the bike, which robbed them of valuable time.
The 31-year-old Perth-born Canberra-based athlete only met his guide, Brisbane triathlete Harvey at Melbourne airport en-route to Devonport last Monday.
The pair spent the week getting to know one another, working together on the tandem race bike and getting their tethers (which link them together on the swim and run) made after visiting the local Spotlight store in Devonport.
And the Tokyo Games 1500m finalist also received some encouragement from one of his rivals, in Tokyo Paralympian Jono Goerlach who called him “the real deal” on the eve of the race,
Goerlach admitting that Harding had a deadly run leg and despite the chain mishap, still relegated Goerlach to second place ahead of Paralympic legend Gerrard Gosens.
“I figured if there was a year to potentially have a little bit of a break from athletics....do some cross (racing) and have a bit of a rest almost, it was going to be this year,” said Harding, who said noted Paralympic swim coach Yuri Vdovychenko, had taught him to swim.
“When I moved to Canberra in 2010 I could hardly swim a lap at all and now I’m doing paratriathlons (and a 750m swim) out in the open water,” said Harding.
“I’ve still got heaps to improve on but I’m lucky to have Yuri in Canberra in the pool, my running coach Philo Saunders as well as triathlon coach Megan Hall.
“Jono has been really encouraging, I met him back in 2014 or 2015 and we’ve kept in contact.
“And then after Tokyo I mentioned to him that I was going to try and do some triathlons and see how it went and so he's been helping me and letting me know how everything works; he's been really good.”
Caroline Baird (PTVI), Nic Beveridge (PTWC), Glen Jarvis (PTS2), Jeremy Peacock (PTS3), Liam Twomey (PTS4), David Bryant (PTS5) and Molly Wallace (PTS5) also put together great performances to take the win in their respective classes for the Oceania Triathlon Para Cup.
1st - Sam Harding
2nd - Jonathan Goerlach
3rd - Gerrard Gosens
1st - Caroline Baird
2nd - Erica Burleigh
1st - Nic Beveridge
1st - Lauren Parker
2nd - Sara Tait
1st - Glen Jarvis
1st - Jeremy Peacock
2nd - Justin Godfrey
1st - Liam Twomey
2nd - Clint Pickin
1st - David Bryant
2nd - Andrew Wilkinson
1st - Molly Wallace
Triathlon Australia | Delly Carr