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-coming Australian Para-triathlete Katie Kelly in her quest to win the Rio Paralympic Games event.
Jones will first race with Kelly in the PT5 category (vision impaired athletes) at the Yokohama World Para-triathlon Event (WPE) to be held in Japan on 16 May. Other international races this year will be the Rio Test Event on 1 August, the Detroit WPE on 16 August, and the World Championships on 17 September. In the Para-triathlon event for Vision Impaired athletes, 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 Carisbad, California, 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 number 13 in the world after two recent gold medal wins in Australia – the first at the WPE held at the Sunshine Coast on 13 March where she recorded a world class time of 1:15:26 and the second at the National Championships at Redcliffe in Brisbane 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 and trains under Head Coach of the Australian Para-triathlon team Corey Bacon. She has only recently come to compete as a PT5 athlete as she was formally classified in this division after her eye sight had deteriorated to a legally blind status. Kelly was born with Usher Syndrome, a rare deaf and blind degenerative condition.
“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.”
Coach Corey Bacon said that “Katie is world class and we believe she has the potential to bring home a medal from Rio in 2016,” he said.
“That potential is made even greater as she teams up with Michellie Jones as her guide.”
Kelly’s weekly training regime consists of 5km swimming, 250km cycle, 40km run all whilst working full time.
By Rosey McGrath and Katie Kelly