Great Britain again dominated the ITU Paratriathlon World Championships, scoring big in both the overall medal count with 15, as well as the gold medal tally at six. While Iain Dawson (GBR) arrived in London with aspirations of retaining his TRI-6b title, it was his teammate David Ellis who started the winning trend for the host country with the fastest time of the day in the paratriathlon races, clenching his first championship title in the event.
The closest finish of the day was in the men’s TRI-1, when Australia’s Bill Chaffey engineered an incredible comeback in the final leg to beat the Netherlands’ Jetze Plat for his fourth Paratriathlon World Championship title. After Plat led all day, Chaffey overtook him with 300 metres to go to win.
“I don’t know how I did that, at the start of the swim I just saw him take off and thought ‘who the hell is that,’ I got out and was told he had a minute and a half on me out of the swim and then in the bike I was getting timecalls from coach and he was getting further and further and further in front and he was well over two minutes ahead of me before I started the run but I don’t know. I’ve done a lot of work in this wheelchair over the last 12months, it’s obviously paid it,” Chaffey said.
“This is my fourth World Championship and it is the sweetest. It’s the first time I’ve come from behind and so this is the happiest win I think I’ve ever had.”
Also one of paratriathlon’s most successful athletes to date, Faye Mcclelland (GBR) scored her fourth world title in the event, making her career record a perfect 10-0 in the TRI-4 division. Great Britain’s great podium success was owed in part by the British podium sweep Mcclelland led amongst the TRI-4 competitors.
A trio of athletes scored their third World Championship titles in London. Stephane Bahier (FRA) scored his hat trick in the men’s TRI-2 race, while Jennifer Hopkins (CAN) repeated her two previous titles in the TRI-3 division. Megan Fisher (USA) made a successful return to paratriathlon, carrying on her unblemished record by winning her third Grand Final title in the TRI-5 category. Fisher broke from paratriathlon in 2010 to pursue Paralympic cycling where she won both gold and silver.
“The race went by a lot faster than I thought it would, and I’m very grateful for that. My swim was fantastic, I tired to keep everyone with me. Having just come from a Para World Cycling Championships I haven’t spent that much time in the water. I was just hoping to keep my closest competition in contact,” said Fisher.
Melissa Reid (GBR) added yet another World Championship title to her already impressive resume in the women’s TRI-6B. Reid won the Aquathlon World Championships earlier in the week, a race she also won in Auckland last year. While Lindy Hou (AUS) didn’t fare quite as well in the division, the race held special significance to the Australian. Hou was a competitive triathlete and a successful triathlon coach, but when her eyesight deteriorated she was forced to give up competitive cycling and coaching. She became a Paralympic gold medallist in track cycling in 2004, and competed in London with guide Maureen Cummings, who was an alternate for the Australian team at the very first ITU World Championships in Avignon, France 24 years ago.
“I think its phenomenal that Rio is going to have the paratriathlon for the first time and hopefully by me competing and fellow paratriathletes competing we can inspire other younger athletes from Australia to take up the sport, because we are still pretty thin in terms of participation,” Hou said. “The beauty about triathlon is regardless of your ability, everyone can participate, and compete at the level that they are at.”
In his first World Championships, Vasyl Zakrevskyi (UKR) also earned his first paratriathlon title in the men’s TRI-6A category and became the first paratriathlete from Ukraine to win a title. Matt Emmerson (GBR) retained his world title in the men’s TRI-5 division, making him one of the 15 athletes from Great Britain that collected medals.
After competing in the 2012 Paralympic Games here in London, Chris Hammer (USA) returned with hopes of his first paratriathlon World Championship podium, but Martin Schulz (GER), one of the younger paratriatletes competing, was the one to garner the gold in the TRI-4 race.
“It is my first World Title, last year I was second and it was not so fun, but this year I just can’t imagine it,” Schulz said. “2016 is my absolute focus, but I know I have to do better on the bike and the run.”
After winning the Madrid Paratriathlon International Event and Spain’s Paratriathlon National Championships, Diego Velazquez Rodriguez (ESP) went on to win his first World Championships in the sprint distance to add to the long distance triathlon world title he won in Vitoria-Gasteiz last year. Jane Egan (GBR) reclaimed her World title in the TRI-1 classification after losing it in Auckland, while Hailey Danisewicz (USA) took home the win in the TRI-2 event when Marianne Huche (DEN) was disqualified.
France's Pierre Le Corre ensured history didn't repeat, taking out the 2013 Under23 Men's World Championship title in a sprint to the finish over Spain's Fernando Alarza and Australia's Declan Wilson.
Australia's Charlotte McShane has won the U23 Women's World Championship in a thrilling finishing chute sprint, just outlasting Canada's Ellen Pennock and Amelie Kretz in London on Thursday.
France's Dorian Coninx proved too strong in tough conditions in Hyde Park on Thursday, just holding off Great Britain's Marc Austin and Grant Sheldon in the 2013 Junior Men's World Championship race.
The USA's Tamara Gorman claimed her first ITU Women's World Championship in London on Thursday, claiming gold ahead of a fast-finishing Georgia Taylor-Brown and Laura Lindemann.