Michellie Jones, the two-time International Triathlon Union (ITU) world champion (1992 and 1993), 2000 Olympic silver medallist and 2006 Hawaiian Ironman winner, is set to add to her exceptional triathlon career by competing as a guide for up-and-coming Australian Para-triathlete Katie Kelly, in her quest to win gold at the Rio 2016 Paralympic Games.
Jones will first race with Kelly in the PT5 category for athletes with a vision impairment at the 2015 ITU World Para-triathlon Event (WPE) in Yokohama, Japan, on 16 May. Other international races this year will be the Rio 2016 Test Event on 1 August, the WPE in Detroit, USA, on 16 August, and the ITU World Triathlon Grand Final in Chicago, USA, on 17 September.
In Para-triathlon, the guide is attached to the athlete by a tether on the swim and the run, and a tandem bike is used for the cycle.
Jones, who now lives in Carlsbad, USA, said: “Triathlon is such an amazing sport and one which requires you to push yourself to the limits. I am inspired by Para-triathletes such as Katie who compete at the top level whilst overcoming some quite significant impairment challenges.
“I’m looking forward to racing again and taking part in what is sure to be an amazing event. I know that Katie is determined to rank in the top three, so my competitive streak will certainly kick in to help her get to the podium.”
Kelly is currently ranked world No. 13 after two recent gold medal wins in Australia – the first at the WPE held on the Sunshine Coast, QLD, on 13 March, where she recorded a world class time of 1:15:26, and the second at the Para-triathlon National Championships in Redcliffe, QLD, on 29 March, where she recorded a time of 1:16:59 for the sprint distance triathlon (750m swim, 20km cycle and 5km run).
Kelly resides in Canberra, ACT, and trains under the head coach of the Australian Para-triathlon team, Corey Bacon.
“The recent gold medal wins mean I have put myself in the frame to be selected for the first of several big races, including the World Championships in Chicago to be held on 17 September this year,” Kelly said.
“My ultimate aim is to make the Australian Para-triathlon team for the 2016 Rio Paralympics – where the sport will make its debut on the Paralympic level.”
Bacon said: “Katie is world-class, and we believe she has the potential to bring home a medal from Rio in 2016.
“That potential is made even greater as she teams up with Michellie Jones as her guide.”
By Rosey McGrath and Katie Kelly