Australian Para-triathlete Brant Garvey has shown extraordinary courage to stave off “excruciating pain” and reach the finish line of the first ever triathlon at the Paralympic Games.
Garvey, an above knee amputee, appeared set to throw in the towel as he reached the last transition from bicycle to run, but the 31-year-old refused to give in, crossing the line in 1:19:21, about seven minutes behind winner Andrew Lewis from Great Britain.
“When it came to the end of the bike – I think I’d lost just about every position that I had – and my abductor in my good leg grabbed and I couldn’t run and was in excruciating pain,” Garvey said.
“I didn’t think I was going to be able to run, but I got into a bit of a rhythm and was able to finish my first ever Paralympic Games [triathlon].”
Garvey’s determination was echoed by the other two Australians competing on Saturday at Copacabana Beach, with Bill Chaffey coming in fourth and Nic Beveridge finishing ninth in the PT1 race.
Chaffey, the five-time para-triathlon world champion, admitted to bitter disappointment in his result, but graciously praised the medallists who finished ahead of him.
“While I raced pretty well out there today, those other guys were that much better. Congratulations to them. I’m a little disappointed in myself,” Chaffey said.
“I always knew I’d have a deficit after of the swim. I wasn’t sure how far it would be. Jetze [Plat] is a fantastic swimmer and cyclist and, as he proved today, he’s a fantastic triathlete. And the other two guys, Geert [Schipper] from the Netherlands and Giovanni [Achenza] from Italy, they came past me on the bike like I was sitting still. I was going as hard as I could, so all credit to them. They’ve obviously made a massive improvement on the bike and I haven’t made that up.”
“It stings a lot. I feel like I’ve had a big fall. But I can come back.”
Beveridge said he was proud of his effort registering around his personal best times for each leg of the race.
“I hit the ramp up to where the grandstand was and all of a sudden, being short of breath, the dry mouth, the sore arms, it just disappeared and the crowd just pushed you that last hundred metres across the line. It was a pretty special venue here.”