By Merryn Sherwood on 11/09/13 at 7:04 pm
As Paratriathlon ramps up competition ahead of its debut at the Rio 2016 Paralympic Games, a record-breaking 210 athletes from 26 nations will compete in London, which is nearly double the field from last year’s World Championships.
Great Britain’s powerful paratriathlon team will be back and aiming to defend its five gold medals at home when the races start in Hyde Park on Friday.
Last year in Auckland Great Britain topped the medal tally with its five gold, including Iain Dawson in the men’s TRI-6, Matthew Emmerson in the men’s TRI-5, Faye McClelland in the women’s TRI-4, Steven Judge in the men’s TRI-3, and Karen Darke in the women’s TRI-1.
Darke, McClelland, Judge, Emmerson and Dawson are all back to defend their titles and Team GB will be one of the largest on the start line with 19 competitors. One new face to watch is Phil Hogg, a successful wheelchair athlete who also represented his country in wheelchair basketball before switching to triathlon in 2013. Hogg’s first major event was the 2013 European Championships in Turkey, where he won the TRI-1 category. He’ll be joined on the start list by Joe Townsend who hit headlines last year when he carried the Paralympic Flame into the London 2012 stadium during the opening ceremony.
However, the home favourites will be tested by the likes of the US team that won 13 overall medals in Auckland last year and who have bought the largest team to London with 40 athletes. Rookie Chris Hammer is one to keep an eye on, as he competed in athletics at the London Paralympics and in three paratriathlon races this year, collecting two wins and one silver in the men’s TR1-4 category. This year the US team also welcomes back two-time World Champion Megan Fisher after a three-year break from ITU racing to focus on Paralympic cycling instead. Fisher won the women’s TRI-5 world title in 2009 and 2010, and the London paratriathlon event in 2010, as well as took wins in the San Diego Paratriathlon Event and the U.S.A nationals this year.
The Japanese team also includes many Paralympians like Masazumi Soejima and Daisuke Ejima. Soejima is a two-time Paralympian who won a bronze medal at Athens in the wheelchair relay, while Ejima is a three-time Paralympian who won a silver medal in the medley relay at the Athens Paralympics.
As Rio prepares to host the first Paralympic paratriathlon event, expect the growing Brazilian team to contend as well. Marcelo Collet finished 7th in the men’s TRI-5 category in Auckland, but this year has collected wins in San Diego, Yokohama and the PATCO championships.
One of the most interesting races though is set to be the men’s TRI-1. Last year’s podium, Australia’s Bill Chaffey, the USA’s Andre Kajlich and Kennedy Geoffrey are all back, but this year there is a total of 23 athletes on the start line. While Chaffey has won three Paratriathlon World Championships already, he faces a tough battle to defend in 2013 with the depth in the field.
In London, the paratriathlon sprint distance course consists of a 750m swim, 20km bike (handcycle/tandem) and 5km run (wheelchair).
The 2013 season was another huge year of growth for paratriathlon, with three international events at the San Diego, Yokohama and Edmonton and continental championships in Wellington, Subic Bay, Agadir, Alanya and Itaparica, Vila Velha.
Find more details about this event - 2013 ITU World Triathlon Grand Final London