British Triathlon has announced its paratriathlon funding for 2015, underlining its core focus of winning medals in the sport’s Paralympic Games debut in Rio.
The list of podium and potential beneficiaries has been refined to triathletes whose disability category will be raced in Brazil. It is an expected move with the elite paratriathlon programme’s future funding resting on success in Brazil in 21 months’ time.
The categories selected mean strong British medal hopes, with two current world champions and three podium finishers from the ITU World Championships in Edmonton, Canada in September.
The elite funding award for paratriathlon is held at £583,310 for 2015, but British Triathlon will find out at the end of January whether its application for additional financial support has been successful.
The women’s impaired limb mobility division (PT4) is currently Britain’s strongest suit with Lauren Steadman, Faye McClelland and Clare Cunningham taking the top three positions respectively in Edmonton. But the women’s visually impaired (PT5) category also sees strong British representation with world champion Alison Patrick and last year’s winner Melissa Reid.
The other two athletes on the highest level of funding (podium) are (PT1) world championship runner-up Phil Hogg and fourth-placed Joe Townsend.
British Triathlon's Performance Manager Jonathon Riall, said: “With Rio only just over a year and a half away we expect to see paratriathlon make big strides forward next season. The benefit of UK Sport Lottery funding is that this squad can focus completely on preparing for Rio.
“As a programme we’ve made huge steps forward this year, including developing our Loughborough training Hub, but there is more work to do. We have a recruitment programme running at the moment to find new guides for our visually impaired athletes and we are much stronger in some categories than others.
“At this stage in the Paralympic cycle it may be late to bring on new talent, but we’re excited to welcome some new names to the elite programme this year, including Rhiannon Henry, Ryan Taylor and Andrew Lewis.”
The exact categories for Rio were finalised last month by the IPC and among the notable omissions were the visually impaired men (PT5) and wheelchair women (PT1). This ended the Paralympic dreams of the likes of three-time world champion Jane Egan and 2013 world champion Dave Ellis.
British Triathlon says although triathletes in non-Paralympic events will no longer be financially supported through the official squads, they will be given support to allow them to compete in European and world finals. The hope is the categories will be included by the Tokyo Paralympics in 2020.
Full list below...
Phil Hogg, 44, Derby, PT1 – 2nd at ITU World Champs 2014, European Champion 2013
Joe Townsend, 26, Eastbourne, PT1 – 4th at ITU World Champs 2014, former Royal Marine, four golds at the Invictus Games
Lauren Steadman, 21, Peterborough/Portsmouth, PT4 – ITU World Champion 2014
Faye McClelland, 35, Eastbourne, PT4 – four-time world champion
Clare Cunningham, 37, Cambridge, PT4 – 3rd at ITU World Champs 2014, 2009 World Champion
Alison Patrick, 27, Livingstone, PT5 – ITU World Champion 2014
Melissa Reid, 24, Truro, PT5 – ITU World Champion 2013
Andrew Lewis, 31, Lydney, Gloucester, PT2
Rhiannon Henry, 27, Bridgend, PT5
Ryan Taylor, 21, Derby, PT2
David Hill, 25, Bath, PT4
George Peasgood, 19, Saffron Walden, PT4
Out of the athletes above, many enjoyed dazzling success at the ITU Grand Final in Edmonton, Canada this year, with the 13-strong squad collecting eight world championship medals including two golds, four silvers and two bronzes, spanning classes from PT1 to PT5.
The ITU recently confirmed its calendar for next year’s World Paratriathlon Events has been confirmed, with South Africa to get things started on 1 March and the Chicago Grand Final to host the final one in September 2015.