Australia’s leading paratriathletes have given the immediate thumbs up for the Paratriathlon Mixed Relay event, after winning a hugely successful demonstration event in Abu Dhabi today.
The Australia II team of Lauren Parker, Sam Harding (with guide Luke Harvey) and Jeremy Peacock (who completed two legs) won the first event of its kind, hailed as a landmark moment for para sport.
It follows the huge success of the Elite Mixed Relay which made its debut at the Tokyo Olympics – now a regular on the World Triathlon Series and World Championships – and part of the last three Commonwealth Games.
Tokyo Paralympic silver medallist Parker (PTWC), led out the Australian team followed by her fellow Paralympic team member Harding (PTVI) who has successfully transitioned from track and field to triathlon, and recently crowned world championship bronze medallist Peacock (PTS4) - who completed two of the four legs – under adjusted demonstration event rules.
Each of the four legs involved a one-lap, 150m swim transitioning to a 4.5km bike and 1.2km run, the officials radioing the handovers from the run finish to pontoon to send the next team member into the water.
The showcase event saw nine teams line up: two from Australia and USA, France, Italy and three World Triathlon mixed nationality teams, and several of the freshly crowned 2022 World Championship medallists were among the athletes racing in this slice of triathlon history.
World Triathlon said: “The mix of genders and classes made for non-stop action, the inevitable huge variation in transition times for those in handcycles versus bikes, prosthetics and visually impaired making the leads and gaps ebb and flow throughout the 70-minute race.”
It may have been a showcase event, but there was no shortage of competitive fire from the athletes as Team Australia II broke the tape from Team USA I, and USA II with Australia I (Nic Beveridge, Anu Francis, Liam Twomey and Sally Peacock) 9th.
Peacock, who was cheered across the line by his teammates and Aussie supporters said he was proud to be part of the history-making event.
“To break the tape and take it home in the first race was a huge honour,” said Peacock.
“It’s such a great opportunity for Paratriathlon, we’ve seen what it has done on the Olympic programme, so hopefully we can do the same for the Paralympic programme now.
“That was an epic first event, we’ll all have learned a lot today.”
Triathlon Australia’s Paralympic Performance Manager Kyle Burns was delighted with the team’s efforts and the overall success of the event.
“Lauren Parker started, coming in sixth before Jeremy Peacock moved us into second spot behind Italy who were just in front at the end of that second leg, the two teams virtually together, before Sam Harding and Luke Harvey took off and went to the lead,” said Burns.
“They produced a blistering one kilometre run leg to take control, handing off to Jeremy Peacock for the final leg and his second time around.
“It was a great way to finish a pretty strong campaign for us.... they have never had to back up before, a new sensation for our athletes.
“There is no doubt we will have people knocking the walls down just to be on this team in the future.
“There will be a fair amount of competition for those spots which is a good thing. It means another race for them to look forward to and it brings the team together.”
“Australia was keen to support and get learnings and to get the knowledge from our athletes, so we entered two teams. Only Australia and Team USA were able to do that, and we also had our 2018 Commonwealth Games PTWC representative Sara Tait in with the French team to enable them to have a start.
“And the athlete feedback has been really positive already, it was really well run; there are a lot of learnings from it but overall, a great success.”