A multi-talented mixture of old faces and new, of world champions and debutants will line up for a history-making World Paratriathlon event at Twin Waters on the Sunshine Coast on Friday.
The 2015 Sunshine Coast ITU World Paratriathlon Event will only be the second ever event of its kind staged in Australia with 47 athletes from 10 countries, including Australia meeting the starters gun.
Other countries include Japan, USA, Brazil, Spain, Denmark, Hungary, Canada, Netherlands and Italy.
Japan and the USA have the next biggest contingents behind host country Australia with seven athletes respectively.
For many it will signal the start of what could be an historic road to Rio when the sport of Paratriathlon makes its debut at the 2016 Paralympics in Brazil.
Australia will field a team of 15 from the Gold Coast’s experienced four-time ITU world champion Bill Chaffey (PT1) and reigning ITU world champion from WA Sally Pilbeam (PT3) to new faces to Paratriathlon Queensland’s Emily Tapp (PT1) and the recently classified legally blind experienced triathlete Katie Kelly (PT5) who has re-located from Newcastle to the ACT.
Friday will see races across all five classifications from PT1 to PT5 across men and women but the six categories announced for the Paralympics are: MEN – PT1, PT2 and PT4 and WOMEN: PT2, PT4 and PT5.
The last race for most of the Australian athletes was the OTU Oceania Championships in Penrith in January with athletes forced to contend with torrential rain where Chaffey clocked the fastest time of the day followed by Jack Swift (PT4) with Claire McLean (PT4) the fastest female.
Here Triathlon Australia’s Paratriathlon Manager Karthryn Periac runs her eyes over the fields:
PT1 Men: Four-time world champion Bill Chaffey is one of three Aussies in this field along with Nic Beveridge and Matt Brumby. Chaffey is fitter and faster than ever and eager to return to international racing after missing the 2014 World Championships through injury. Bill is planning to race WPE in Madrid and London in May and then the Rio Test Event in early August before the World Championships in September. Giovanni Achenza (ITA) is possibly the strongest opponent; he was 5th at the 2014 World Championships and won in Buffalo City on March 1.
PT2 Men: Brant Garvey and Glen Jarvis will line up for Australia. Garvey was sixth at the 2014 World Championships and has continued his strong progression improving his Penrith time by over 3 minutes despite the rainy conditions. This included a 2 minute pb (and fastest overall) swim, a 30s pb in the bike and a 30s pb in the run. He races a largely unknown field of six other athletes, only Giovanni Sasso (ITA) was at World Championships (finished 9th), and the two Brazilians may be the athletes to challenge him.
PT3 Men: Justin Godfrey (AUS) was 6th at 2014 World Championships and faces two relatively unknown Brazilians. Justin had major surgery in November and returned to racing at the Oceania Championships with a pb swim.
PT4 Men: The largest field with 14 starters and includes several athletes from the World Championships: Peter Boronkay (HUN) 7th, Jack Swift (AUS) 11th and Marcelo Collet (BRA) 12th. Jack Swift is in personal best shape after going 5 minutes faster on the Penrith course overall in January. Many unknown athletes all trying to earn valuable ranking points for World Championships qualifying in this the strongest class in Paratriathlon with nearly 100 athletes on the ranking list after just 12 months. Swift will be joined by Tony Scoleri from South Australia.
PT5 Men: Featuring the experienced Jonathan Goerlach and his guide from the 2014 ITU World Championships Jack Bigmore when Jonathan finished 10th in his class. He had previously won the OTU Oceania at Penrith in 2014 and the Elwood OTU WPE event at Elwood and was fifth in Chicago. Will be up against Japan’s Ryu Nakazawa.
PT1 Women: Two very new athletes Emily Tapp (AUS) and Eva Maria Moral Pedrero (ESP) will battle it out. Tapp showed her prowess at Penrith with an eye-catching debut.
PT3 Women: Australia’s only current world champion Sally Pilbeam from WA has also continued to improve with a 6 minute overall pb on the Penrith course. She will be joined by Australia’s Kerryn Harvey from Victoria.
PT4 Women: WA’s Claire McLean (7th at World Championships) will be the favourite over her teammate Kate Doughty. Both athletes have been Paralympians in different sports, cycling for Claire (silver medal in Athens) and Equestrian for Kate. Judith Abrahams (USA) is a new athlete in this class.
PT5 Women: Katie Kelly (AUS) has been racing for years in able bodied triathlons and was classified eligible for Paratriathlon only last month. Her opposition includes a new Brazilian competitor Ana Tercia Soares and the Japanese athlete Atsuko Yamada. Katie’s guide will be Laura Cook who recently finished third n the Australian Junior Elite Championships at Devonport.
Several of the international athletes contested the opening WPE in Buffalo City, South Africa on March 1.
By Triathlon Australia