The final four places on this year’s Gold Coast Commonwealth Games Para-triathlon team will be on the line for Australia’s wheelchair athletes at Sunday’s Para-triathlon OTU Continental Championships in St Kilda. 

It is the last chance for PTWC athletes to impress selectors inside the selection criteria dates which finish on January 31. 

The Continental Championships will be run as part of race three of the six-race Victorian Triathlon Series. 

Australia already has two automatic nominations, with five-time ITU world champion Bill Chaffey and reigning ITU World Champion Emily Tapp earning those spots on the Gold Coast last year. 

Chaffey and Tapp won’t race in St Kilda, entering next month’s Devonport World Cup (February 16-17).

Gold Coaster Nic Beveridge, who placed fourth at last year’s ITU World Championships in Rotterdam, will also be missing from the start line after only returning to training from injury late last year. 

Among those pushing for selection will be Alex Welsh, Scott Crowley, Sara Tait and Lauren Parker.

The Championships will also give athletes the opportunity to gain valuable ITU ranking points as they build towards qualifying for the 2018 World Championships on the Gold Coast in September and the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games. 

“It is also a chance for new athletes to race the best in Australia and to start their own international careers,” said Australia’s Paralympic Program Manager, Kathryn Periac.

“It presents a chance for developing athletes to demonstrate their progression and potentially be selected for events like the Devonport Para-triathlon World Cup, the Yokohama World Para-triathlon Series and other World Cup and World Series races. 

“And of course it is the final Para-triathlon race in the qualifying period [ending January 31] for the final places in the Australian team for the Commonwealth Games, so it will be a big day all-round.” 

Newcastle’s former Ironman triathlete Parker will make her Para-triathlon debut in St Kilda after losing feeling from the waist down in a cycling accident in April last year.

“We were about 40 kilometres into the ride apparently, because I don’t remember this and I was told by my training partner that we were just riding along as normal and my front and rear tyre both burst at the same time,” Parker said to the Newcastle Herald at the time.

“This does not happen. It’s a freak accident. It never happens.”

Parker is no stranger to top-flight competition. She finished second in her age group at the 2015 Ironman World Championship in Kona, Hawaii and was in training for Ironman Australia Triathlon in Port Macquarie before her accident. 

Joining Parker on debut is Welsh, who became a paraplegic in a motocross accident in 2009. Last week, he won two gold medals in Para-cycling at the 2018 Road National Championships.

23 Para-triathletes have entered the Continental Championships.

Mark Daniels will race Rio 2016 Paralympian Brant Garvey and the experienced Glen Jarvis.

Liam Twomey, who received a grant from Para-triathlete Kerryn Harvey’s Start Foundation for his prosthetic leg, will line up against Clint Pickin, who only began racing 12 months ago.

Sunday will also see 14-year-old Molly Wallace in action.

Wallace competed in the Australian Junior Triathlon Series during the 2016/17 season and will be eligible for international Para-triathlon once she turns 16.

She is looking forward to the opportunity to line up alongside Rio 2016 Paralympian Kate Doughty, on her way to representing Australia next year.

Among the others in action will be:

  • Two-time World Champion Sally Pilbeam;
  • World Championship medallist Kerryn Harvey;
  • Paralympic silver medallist in cycling and Rio 2016 Para-triathlete Claire McLean;
  • Justin Godfrey, who won two silver medals at the 2018 Road National Championships;
  • Jonathan Goerlach and Gerrard Gosens will resume their rivalry after placing 6th and 9th, respectively, at the 2017 World Championship;
  • Josh Kassulke, who only just missed the Rio start list and is eyeing Tokyo 2020 selection, will line up against Paralympic swimmer Dale Grant, who will swim the Lorne Pier to Pub on Saturday. Joining them in the men’s PTS5 category is Tony Scoleri.

By Triathlon Australia

Posted: 11/01/2017