Kate Doughty has produced an emotional victory in the opening round of the 2019 International Triathlon Union (ITU) World Para-triathlon Series (WPS) in Milan, Italy, after the sudden death of her father-in-law just three days earlier.
Doughty, in her first major international race since giving birth to son Henrik last year, was on song from the outset as the crowds assembled onto the banks of Milan’s Idroscalo Lake in ideal conditions.
Wearing a black armband in honour of her Norwegian father-in-law, she exited the water in first position, 18 seconds ahead of French athlete Gwladys Lemoussu.
Onto the bike and Doughty really put the hammer down, opening up a two-minute lead.
She managed to control her run to stay away and claim her first international win since her last race pre-pregnancy in 2017.
Doughty finished the race in 1:09.27, a minute ahead of second placed Lemoussu (1:10.27), with Petra Levay (1:17.36) from Hungary in third.
“It had been a tough few days leading into the race,” Doughty said. “What with a teething baby on Melbourne time zone, and the very sad loss of my father-in-law, it made for a race of mental strength and racing in honour of our family’s loss.
“Going into the race I had no expectations. I didn’t really know where my racing and fitness were at, so this race was about seeing where I’m at, while still in the process of building back into training load post-baby.
“The body felt good pre-race. I guess it was important to back myself mentally, know I could take extra risks with the confidence I could execute and ultimately just race my own race.
“I feel so confident under Danielle Stefano’s [Doughty’s coach] guidance. I have ultimate trust in the process and the build back into racing – and not to mention her endless support with baby Henrik!
“I’m now very excited for the season ahead.”
Stefano was quick to heap praise on her ‘super-mum’ Paralympian.
“With what has been a really tough week and lead-up to the race, I couldn’t be happier with the way in which Kate went about her preparation and performance,” Stefano said.
“We didn’t know what to expect today, given her absence from this level of racing, but the main message pre-race to Kate was to have confidence in her skills and stick to her own race plan.
“She was able to push herself to the next level, particularly on the bike, and managed to execute both a strong physical and mental performance.
“Whilst getting the win is always a great result, there was definitely so much more that Kate was able to get out of today’s race.
“She’s still not back to 100 percent training just yet, but today’s result gives her the confidence that her comeback is on the right track.”
Australia’s other podium on the day came from two-time PST4 world champion Sally Pilbeam (1:17.56), who placed third behind reigning world champion Hannah Moore (GBR) (1:10.09) and the USA’s Kelly Elmlinger (1:16.08).
In the men’s events, Paralympians Nic Beveridge (PTWC) and Gerrard Gosens B1 (PTVI) placed eighth in their categories.
Beveridge was the first of the PTWC men to exit the swim and head through T1 onto the handcycle.
Local hero Giovanni Achenza (ITA) then had the crowds cheering as he assumed the lead, only to be caught by world and Paralympic champion Jetze Plat (NED) at the halfway point. The race ended with Plat (54.34) in first, Schipper (57.27) in second and Achenza (58.13) in third.
Milan was the first of four stops on the 2019 WPS circuit, which heads to Yokohama, Japan, on 18 May, Montréal, Canada, on 28 June, and reaches its grandstand finish at the 2019 ITU World Triathlon Grand Final in Lausanne, Switzerland, on 1 September.
Click here to view the full results.
By Triathlon Australia