Athletes as young as 12 will join the likes of three-time World Series gold medallist Justin Godfrey when over 20 established and emerging paratriathletes converge onto the Gold Coast this weekend for the Australian Paratriathlon and Australian Intellectual Impairment Championships.
Runaway Bay will again be the centre point for athlete Classification tomorrow before Sunday’s popular dual Super Sprint format – a 350m pool swim; a 9km bike and 2.2k run – twice through.
The Australian Paratriathlon and Intellectual Impairment Championships will provide an opportunity for athletes to race in a format that will make for an exciting contest.
Athlete times will be combined across two shorter races to crown the overall Australian Champions. There will also be an opportunity for those to participate in one shorter race to allow for athletes who want to get a taste of Paratriathlon at the Gold Coast Performance Centre.
It will be the second time that the Intellectual Impairment athletes have had the opportunity to show their wares with the likes of defending champions from Devonport last year Cameron Marshall and Georgia Powning returning alongside fellow competitors to take out the title.
The two youngest competitors will be Shellharbour’s TWD athlete Jack Gibson (NSW) and PT Vision Impaired (PTVI) athlete Brodie Velthuis (QLD) making their first Australian Championship appearances.
While at the other end of the scale is Albury’s 47-year-old leg amputee Godfrey – one of Australia’s most celebrated internationally acclaimed paratriathletes in the PTS3 category.
Triathlon Australia Paratriathlon Team Lead Kyle Burns is excited with the opportunities afforded all of the Paratriathletes and Intellectual Impairment athletes.
“At Triathlon Australia we want to be right across the age demographic from the young to the established athletes. With classification being held on Saturday, this will inject more young athletes into paratriathlon and that’s healthy; it’s what this race day is about,” said Kyle Burns.
“The skill set of our Intellectual Impairment athletes (II) is also improving all the time and having them integrated with the other Para athletes takes it to another level.
“They competed in their first Australian Championships last year in Devonport which was very successful and TA is looking for opportunities and we do want to make it sustainable and an on-going thing.”
It will be a precursor for the Virtus Oceania Asia Games which is coming to Brisbane in November - an inaugural event in the Virtus Asia and Oceania region for athletes with intellectual impairment.
The PTVI athletes, the category included in this year’s Commonwealth Games will also see the likes of Sam Harding, Erica Burleigh and Caroline Baird in action on Sunday.
Harding, a Tokyo Paralympic finalist on the track has already made an impact with his successful debut into Paratriathlon, with successes in both Devonport and Stockton events earlier this year.
‘With Paralympic and World Champion Katie Kelly retiring, it's exciting to see new female talent in the PTVI category with the likes of Erica Burleigh and Caroline Baird and there are some others in the wings as well,” said Burns.
“It’s good that we’ve been able to do that and it is good to find some women that are passionate about representing Australia straight away and they have done that.
“And then in the men's, to find Sam (Harding) who continues to test the unknown in a new sport is a real plus, and he is probably above expectation at this point, which is really beneficial and certainly helps the sport.