BTF’s Jonathon Riall shares the secrets behind GB’s paratriathlon success

For 10 years, head coach Jonathon Riall has led GB’s paratriathletes to global success, including an individual gold in Rio. Here’s how…




Andy Lewis’ gold medal was a highlight but the whole Paralympic experience was a culmination of a huge team effort. It was always more about creating a para version of tri that people could get into.


We’ve become incredibly good at looking after each other and, for Rio, we looked at every possible scenario to make sure little would throw us off. I’m a pretty steady ship and I don’t get too high with the highs, or lows with the lows, and that for me is the easiest way to get through unpredictable environments.

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It can’t be underestimated how difficult the Paralympic Games qualification period is for athletes. They have to balance physical demands, training to be in peak condition, travel and competing, and everything the Paralympics brings – from self-imposed pressure to the media attention. So to have nobody fall off the wagon and all sticking to the plan is the thing I’m most proud of.


After Rio, we planned to start training again in October and it didn’t happen. So we’ve had honest conversations with our athletes to get them motivated again for the next Paralympic journey. Every Games is a different mountain and the challenges aren’t the same. People will have to be cleverer, as we’ve looked at the single-discipline sports and we know there’s room for the performances to rise. We’re not setting the ceiling low.

Paralympic tri squad aim to build on Rio success

Britain’s pioneering approach to elite paratriathlon training

In pictures: GB paratriathletes in training ahead of Rio

In 2017 220 awarded Jonathon Riall the Jane Tomlinson Award for Outstanding Contribution to Triathlon

Judge Tim Heming said of winner Riall: “It would be easy for the achievements of the Paralympic team to be overshadowed after British Triathlon’s most successful Olympic Games ever, but Riall, a mature head on young shoulders, full of verve and enthusiasm (and a pleasure to deal with as a journalist) marshalled a formidable band of paratriathletes to great feats in Rio.


“In many ways this was a step into the unknown. A funded programme that had to serve the needs of a mixture of athletes, from wheelchair competitors to visually impaired triathletes and their guides, all with their own requirements and demands to give them the optimal chance of winning medals at paratri’s inaugural Paralympics. As a fellow Gloucestershire boy, it was also a pleasure to see Riall’s hard work capped with gold for Lydney’s Andy Lewis, whose progression through 2016 was a lesson in peaking to perfection.”


Jonathon Riall, head coach for the Paralympic Programme at @brittri, talks about receiving the #JaneTomlinson Award for Outstanding Contribution to Triathlon #paratriathlon

A post shared by @220triathlon on Jul 12, 2017 at 5:35am PDT