Lauren Steadman turned Rio silver into Tokyo gold and was joined by another swimmer-turned-paratriathlete Claire Cashmore on the podium in the women’s PTS5 class on a day of celebration for Britain’s Paralympic team.
George Peasgood won silver, also in the PTS5 division, meaning all three of the GB triathletes on show on the second and final day of paratri competition won medals.
It meant Britain’s final paratri medal haul of three was one shy of the tally they achieved in Rio, but was still far better than looked likely overnight after failing to get any athletes on to the podium on Saturday.
Steadman, 28, from Portsmouth became the first British paratriathlete to win medals in successive Paralympic Games overcoming the challenge of USA’s Grace Norman as the result from five years ago was reversed.
Elsewhere are the Odaiba Marine Park, both paratri wheelchair divisions were in action, won by the USA’s Kendall Gretsch in a dramatic sprint finish with Australian Lauren Parker, and the formidable Dutchman Jetze Plat, who defended his title from Rio and has been defeated just once since 2013.
Women’s PTS 5
The women’s PTS5 race was always predicted to be a three-way tussle for supremacy and so it played out with defending champion Norman leading out the 750m swim by 43sec from Cashmore, closely followed by Steadman.
Steadman took the lead on lap three of the four-lap 20km bike course, but Cashmore was issued with a penalty that meant a 1min stand down in the penalty box.
On to the run and Steadman managed to pull away from the American to take gold by just over 40sec in 1:04:46 with Cashmore a further 2mins claiming bronze.
“I had no idea how it was going to go,” Steadman said. “The standard in my category is fantastic. Grace could have taken it, Claire could have. After Rio, I was devastated and I really withdrew from sport. I don’t think it has quite sunk in yet, I feel quite teary. I can’t believe I did it.”
“Lauren fully deserves that gold,” Cashmore said. “She has done an incredible year of training – and Grace Norman as well. Both came back from Rio 2016 and are massive role models to me. It was incredible to see those two with me on the podium.”
George Peasgood picked the perfect day to stay clear of all but one of the field – as Rio 2016 champion Martin Schulz just had enough on the run to retain his title.
Peasgood, who has so often lead the PTS5 class before being clawed back late in the race, again led out of the swim by over minute and still held a gap over Schulz heading into the final 5km, but it didn’t prove quite enough as the German ran a 17:11 split to clinch victory by 45sec.
However, the 25-year-old from Saffron Waldron, who will also compete in the cycling time-trial and road race in Tokyo, had more than enough to hold off the chasing Stefan Daniel from Canada, who had to settle for bronze.
“It’s the Paralympics, it’s the best of the best, and getting here was a medal in its own right,” Peasgood said. “Over the last couple of months I have had proper low moments, so to come away with a medal has not sunk in, and it probably won’t for a while. It’s just absolutely amazing.”
Pics: © Delly Carr | World Triathlon