24 competitors lined up in the ITU World Paratriathlon Yokohama this morning in breezy but fine conditions, the rain of yesterday’s elite racing gone making for a more comfortable day for athletes and spectators.
The field of paratriathletes were mainly from Japan but international interest was provided by Michael Johnston (USA) and Marcelo Collett (BRA) who renewed their rivalry from the San Diego event two weeks ago in the TRI-5 category.
There were also some well known stars; including 3 time Paralympian Mami Sato. Sato has represented Japan at the last 3 Paralympics Games and was 6th in the Long Jump in Beijing in 2008. The national record holder for long jump spoke of her nervousness before her third triathlon.
“I am a little bit nervous; I am not so good at everything I think! Triathlon is fantastic sport for me with Paralympics athletes together it is such a good atmosphere. I have some friends watching me race too.”
She need not have worried though, the popular Sato received great applause all around the course and finished to a waiting gaggle of media, keen on an interview with the sport’s latest recruit.
“It was so hard of course, but I did enjoy it. Swimming I was nervous because today some paratriathletes joined and made it a high speed swim. But I did my best today.
“The support is so good; people supported me and made today magic on the course.
“I have been a long jumper for ten years, going to Paralympics games but maybe triathlon now for Rio 2016. Because it is a good sport for me, it is a real sport that showcases inclusion, everyone can join, I like this sport and it is good for the Paralympics movement.”
Collett again had the better of Johnston in the TRI-5 category, the Brazilian also has his eyes on Rio 2016 and enjoyed his Yokohama experience.
“The race I like very much, it was very good contest and strong competition here in Japan, I live it very much and want to thank all the people of Japan. I want to go to Rio, I am training very hard for Rio, this is my goal and I hope I can achieve that dream.”
Also taking part was Masazumi Soejima in the TRI-1 men’s category. Soejima has competed at two Paralympics Games in 2004 and 2008, winning a bronze medal at the Athens Games in the wheel chair relay.
Daisuke Ejima competed in the men’s TRI-3 category. He too is a veteran of the Paralympics, having competed in the 2004, 2008 and 2012 Games, winning a silver medal in the medley relay at the Athens Paralympics.
Spectators were out in numbers to support the Paratriathletes and then the age group athletes, 2,000 of whom took part in the sold out age group racing throughout the morning at Yokohama, racing in and around the beautiful Yamashita Park.