Paratriathlon golden girl Katie Kelly and her 2016 Rio team mate Kate Doughty will spearhead a six-strong Australian team into this weekend’s World Paratriathlon Series round in Edmonton.
They will be joined by two-time ITU world champion Sally Pilbeam (PT4) and Queensland trio Commonwealth Games nomination Emily Tapp (PTWC) Paralympic legend Gerrard Gosens (PTVI) and rising star Josh Kassulke (PTS5).
Triathlon Australia’s Paratriathlon Program Manager Kathryn Periac is excited about her team getting out on the competition arena again.
“It’s been a long cold winter at home for some and I know they are looking to shake off the racing cobwebs and test their progress towards our main goal, the 2017 World Championships in Rotterdam on September 15,” said Periac.
“Edmonton provides the perfect opportunity for us to do this with some strong fields, a testing bike course and the WTS higher pressure atmosphere.
“There are many new athletes appearing on the international stage this year as well as the Rio Paralympians which adds up to an exciting mix of well-known champions and unknown future as they build their rankings to qualify for the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games.”
Kelly will be re-united with guide, 2000 Olympic silver medallist and former ITU world champion, Hall of Famer Michellie Jones as the 2015 world champions plot their assault on this year’s ITU World Championships in Rotterdam.
Kelly has been plagued by an annoying calf injury, which has curtailed her competition schedule over the past 12 months and said her and Jones were “just stoked to be racing in the green and gold again.”
“This is the first time since Rio we will be able to have the opportunity to put in a solid swim, bike and run,” said Kelly.
“There's been a few changes in my life having moved to the Gold Coast, training with my new coach Dan Atkins and rehabilitating the injury since December.
“But I believe these were all steps I needed to take to ensure that I could continue to be competitive in Paratriathlon.
“Michellie who has won ITU World Championship silver and World Championships Age Group in 2014 here so it has been a pretty good track record for her over the Edmonton course so we're hoping to continue this success.”
Doughty, fifth in Rio, is coming off a great performance in Yokohama but will face the toughest competition of the day against Rio Paralympic gold medallist Grace Norman (USA) and British silver medallist Lauren Steadman, the red-hot favourite beaten by the then US teen in a major upset.
“Yokohama was a really good race for me. Mentally, I had a specific process to engage in and felt I executed this well, with proof in my results,” said Doughty.
“Edmonton is similar in that it is an opportunity to focus on the mental processes and have a good hit out before Rotterdam. World Championships.”
WA’s arm amputee mother of two, Sally Pilbeam is on the road chasing her third world crown this year and Edmonton is also a happy hunting ground for her.
“Things have been going well for me. I've had a solid training block since Yokohama and I'm looking forward to another solid race leading into Rotterdam,” said Pilbeam.
“Edmonton was where I won my first world championship (in 2014), so I have very good memories of being here.”
She faces Japan’s Mami Tani who beat Pilbeam in Yokohama and with Tokyo coming she has returned to triathlon.
Tapp, who gained Commonwealth Games nomination on the Gold Coast in April, comes up against an unknown new Dutch athlete Margret Ijdeman in what will be an important part of her preparation towards the Commonwealth Games.
Both vision impaired Gosens (PTVI) and arm amputee Kassulke (PTS5) have solid fields with former and current World Champions racing in both and fast developing British athletes who will keep the Australian boys honest.