The ITU World Paratriathlon season starts this Sunday in Buffalo City, South Africa and Brits Lauren Steadman and Alison Patrick will be hoping to seal their Paralympic Games selections. Others are chasing ranking points that will help them qualify later in the season.
Steadman and Patrick can achieve automatic selection by virtue of having won medals at both the ITU Paratriathlon World Championships in 2014 and 2015. Winning this weekend will seal their selections.
ITU World Champion, Steadman said: “It would be a big boost to secure Paralympic selection this weekend. However, I don’t want to get ahead of myself, this is the first race of the season.
“It’s great that the season is getting under way, and that Paralympic year is finally here. This is what we have all been working towards for many years.”
General selection will consider medal winning performances at the 2015 ITU World Championships as well as top ten performances at the ETU European Championships in May and rounds of the ITU World Paratriathlon Event Series up to 20 June.
Head Coach, Jonathon Riall said: “There have been some big strides made over the winter and now is the opportunity for athletes to put their practice into a performance. This is the start, and what ever happens we will build from here towards the summer and aim to be in our best possible shape in Rio. The whole team is chasing ranking points, so every race is important now.”
The course in Buffalo City features a 750m sea swim, flat 20km bike and 5km run section.
The GB athletes are;
PT1: Phil Hogg, Bret Crossley
PT2: Ryan Taylor
PT4: Dave Hill, Lauren Steadman
PT4: Alison Patrick (guide Nicole Walters), Melissa Reid (guide Hazel Smith)
Former European Champion Phil Hogg who competes in the PT1 class said:
“I was involved in a cycling accident in 1991 which left me paralysed from the waist down. I took part in wheelchair racing for many years before discovering triathlon. I love the fact that triathlon rewards hard work and dedication, and if I can make it to Rio it will be the absolute highlight of my career to be there for the sport’s debut. To compete for your country at the highest level is a honour and privilege that doesn’t come easy.
“I compete in the PT1 category where everyone I am up against has little or no use of their legs. We swim the same course as every competitor in the other classifications, and then race on hand cycles during the bike section and racing chairs for the run. As you can imagine, it takes some serious arm power to complete all three sections, so we’re the guys with the huge shoulder and back muscles! I expect Rio to be the fastest, most competitive PT1 event the world will ever have seen, so make sure to watch it in September!”