Paratriathlon ready to make its debut at the Commonwealth Games
06 April 2018
With Gold Coast 2018 having the largest integrated Para-Sport program in Commonwealth Games history, Paratriathlon is ready to make its debut in the programme this Saturday. Twelve athletes (six men, six female) in the PTWC class will be vying for the medals over a sprint distance course, the same one used by the elite athletes this past Thursday.
The Women’s gold medal in the PTWC class will most likely be a fierce battle between Emilie Tapp (AUS) and Jade Jones (ENG). The current two-time ITU world champion was one of the first nominations onto the Australian team for the 2018 Commonwealth Games following her outstanding performances in 2017, including her world title. “I’m very excited, to not only be (the Games) in Australia for the first time but the first time and having been selected, I can’t even believe that, that’s something of the greatest honour,” she said in an interview. Tapp became a paraplegic after a campdrafting accident in 2011 in her hometown in Australia, and started paratriathlon in 2015. But since her class was not included in the Paralympic programme for Rio 2016, she then changed to athletics. After the Games, she changed again her focus to paratriathlon and has had an impressive career since, which puts her in a great position to try to earn her first Commonwealth Games medal tomorrow.
Lining up along with the Aussie athlete will be breakout star of the season, English Jade Jones, who made her international paratriathlon debut in Yokohama in May 2017 and won the ETU European title a month later in Kitzbuhel, to finish the season with a silver medal in the World Championships. Coming from a track athletics background, she decided to try triathlon having already competed at the London 2012 and Rio 2016 Paralympic Games.
The start list for the women’s competition will also include two more Assie athletes, Sara Tait and Lauren Parker, one English, Lizzie Tench and one Scotish, Karen Darke. Parker is one of the fastest known cases of a triathlete transitioning to paratriathlete after an accident. Nine months after the bike crash that left her paralyzed, she was again in the podium finishing second in the 2018 St. Kilda OUT Paratriathlon Oceania Championships, a result that puts her in the list of the ones to watch in the Commonwealth race.
Six men will line up in the Southport Broadwater Parklands pontoon Saturday morning for the debut of Paratriathlon in the Commonwealth Games. And among them, two local favorites, Aussies Bill Chaffey and Nic Beveridge. Chaffey, a former triathlete who also suffered an accident and broke his back, has been competing in paratriathlon races since 2008, but this will be his best chance of grabbing a medal in Major Games, after finishing fourth in Rio 2016, in the debut of paratriathlon in the Paralympic Programme. His teammate, Beveridge, is also aiming for his best result on a major event.
Some experience on being in the podium in the big ocassions has English Joseph Townsend. The Royal Marine Commando lost both legs in an explosion in Afghanistan in 2008, and he started competing in paratriathlon in July 2011. Since then, he has earned a number of podiums, including a third place in 2017 World Championships in Rotterdam, but is also vying for his first medal on major Games.
Gold Coast will set a new Commonwealth Games record by hosting up to 300 paraathletes and 38 medal events across seven sports - an increase of 45 per cent more athletes and 73 per cent more medals compared to the parasport competition staged at the last Commonwealth Games in Glasgow in 2014. Athletics, Swimming, Lawn Bowls, Powerlifting, Track Cycling, Table Tennis and Triathlon will all be contested during Games, with Paratriathlon making its debut this Saturday.
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2018 Gold Coast Commonwealth Games