Brad Snyder races to Paralympic gold in Tokyo
The PTVI men’s event made its Paralymic debut, at just after 8.30am in Tokyo on Saturday, with a stacked field of world class talent, which saw Brad Snyder of Team USA crowned Olympic Para Triathlon Champion. Behind him, Spain’s Héctor Catalá Laparra produced a remarkable run segment to chase down the silver Paralympic medal and Japan’s Satoru Yoneoka had the race of his life to earn bronze.
Brad Snyder, of the USA, was the first of the men out of the 750m swim, in Odaiba Bay, and through the first transition of the day, with his guide Greg Billington. Jose García and Satoru Yoneoka were next through with Spain’s Hector Catala Laparra having some work to do, exiting the swim at the back of the field.
The sprint distance race, consisting of a single 750m lap of the Bay, followed by four 5km laps of a flat and technical bike course towards Ariake Tennis Park then heading north over Fujimi Bridge and doubling back towards Odaiba. The final run segment will see four laps of 1.25km, finishing in front of the grandstands on Odaiba Bay.
For the entire bike segment it was USA’s Snyder who maintained a powerful lead then Kyle Coon (USA), Garcia and Yoneoka, who were with seconds within each other.
Snyder is no stranger to the prestigious Paralympic stage, having represented USA in two other Paralympic Games, in swimming, winning two gold medals and one silver at London 2012 and three gold and one silver at Rio 2016.
Nearing the close of the bike segment Jose García incurred a penalty, losing time and pushed back into the field, despite being one of the leaders out of the water.
Unfortunately Dave Ellis GBR, a top contender leading into the Paralympic Games, was forced to return from the race early, due to a mechanical.
Snyder was out of the second transition of the day, with a significant lead on the other men. Six men were chasing,including Spain’s Laparra who had made up significant ground on the run, and within less than 30-seconds of each other, jostling for the other two medals on the line.
It was USA’s Snyder that executed a tactical and composed run leg, to maintain his striking lead and run away with victory, to be crowned Paralympic champion at the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games.
“It’s a big moment, because you spend so much time visualising and hoping, preparing for it. Just like in Rio and London, there’s no way you can possibly imagine how good it’s going to feel. To be able to reach this level in a second sport is a really cool feeling.
“My life is not about winning. It’s about challenge, it’s about taking on challenges, learning new skills, expanding my boundaries and capabilities. I really felt I was kind of tapped out in swimming. I don’t think there was a lot more I could squeeze out of my capability in swimming. In triathlon there are so many skills, there is so much to learn. There is even stuff I screwed up today. I didn’t get my shoes on all that fast in transition two, so there’s lots of room for improvement.”
“That’s exciting to go into each race, saying, there’s a little bit something I can do better. And that’s what triathlon represented for me.”
An impressive surge on the run by Catala of Spain saw him approach the finish line chute in Tokyo, with his guide Gustavo Rodriguez Iglesias, to earn a brilliant Paralympic silver.
“This medal means a lot. Six or seven years ago I decided to put all my energy into the sport and this is the result of that decision. The silver medal is a dream for me.”
“It was the hardest race in my life, but I am really happy with the result. The level in our category was really high and the gap between all the guys wasn’t that big.”
“The temperature and humidity was very high. I am from Valencia (Spain) where it’s quite humid and hot normally, but this (heat) is two levels higher.”
“I really love the sport, I really love to train hard. I love swimming, biking and running and thought, ‘let’s do triathlon’.
It was a career defining performance by Japan’s Satoru Yoneoka, who astonished a home crowd in Japan, showing incredible class and was awarded Paralympic bronze. The Japanese para triathlete was elated, expressing immense emotion, as he crossed the finish line at the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games.
“I am very happy. In the Japanese national team we have a good flow of winning. With the bronze, I hope I can continue that good flow within the Japanese team.”
Para Triathlon competition continues at the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games on Sunday, with the best para triathletes in the world racing in the PTWC Men’s and Women’s event and PTS5 Men’s and Women’s events..
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