Paralympic golden girl Katie Kelly, with legendary guide Michellie Jones stole the show at Triathlon Australia’s Celebration of Champions Dinner on the Gold Coast over the weekend.
It was a glittering affair at the QT Hotel at Surfers Paradise with the cream of Australia’s triathletes, Para-triathletes, coaches and past champions and officials gathering for a rare night of glitz and glamour away from their daily routine of swim, bike and run.
The vision/hearing impaired Kelly, who became Australia’s first ever Paralympic gold medallist in Rio last year with her trusty guide Jones by her side, won both the Female Performance and Para-triathlon Performance Awards.
For Kelly, it capped an extraordinary six months of post Paralympic celebrations, a girl who was born with retinitis pigmentosa, a degenerative condition affecting both her hearing and vision – disabilities that have not stopped her reaching her lofty goals.
Declared legally blind in 2015 she wasted no time in contacting Triathlon Australia to kick-start her career in Para-sport.
Making her international debut at an ITU World Triathlon Series event on the Sunshine Coast in March 2015, she won gold with guide Michellie Jones, posting a time that ranked them among the top five in the world.
Competing at the Rio 2016 Paralympic Games, where Para-triathlon made its debut, Katie won Australia’s first ever Paralympic medal in the sport. Crossing in 1:12:18, she and Jones raced over a minute faster than second-placed British pair Alison Patrick and Hazel Smith to win gold.
It was certainly a fitting finale for Kelly and Jones – who herself won Olympic silver when triathlon made its Olympic debut in Sydney 2000.
2017 Triathlon Australia Celebration of Champions Dinner, Award winners:
2016 Champion: Justin Godfrey – ITU World Cross Paratriathlon Champion; Katie Kelly/Michellie Jones – Rio Paralympic gold medallist
Tim Reed – 70.3 Ironman World Champion
Chris Hewitt Emerging Athlete: Charlotte McShane
Female Performance of the Year: Katie Kelly and Michellie Jones
Male Performance of the Year: Tim Reed
Paratriathlete Performance of the Year: Katie Kelly and Michellie Jones
Athletes Athlete of the Year: Tim Reed
High Performance Coach of the Year: Jamie Turner
Age Group Coaches of the Year: Corey Bacon (Performance Triathlon Coaching, ACT); Liz Gosper ( Inclusive Sports Training, VIC)
Legends of the Sport: Mark Pringle, Mike Maroney, Ken Uren, Carol Pickard.
Services to the Sport Awards: Geoff Frost, Graham Hannan
Rob George Technical Officials of the Year Awards: Shane Burnett (Triathlon Western Australia); Kelly Bennett-Allan – (Triathlon Queensland); Andy McGuire (Triathlon Victoria)
Technical Officials 25 Years Service Award: Greg Lebeter.
By Triathlon Australia