Three-time world champion Lauren Parker will line up in Saturday’s World Triathlon Para Series in Yokohama in a 10-strong Australian team, fresh from her spectacular UCI para-cycling Road World Cup debut in Belgium last weekend.
Parker wasted no time in making her presence felt on the para-cycling stage winning the time trial and dead-heating in the road race – beating world class fields.
A week later and she will face off against her 2020 Tokyo Paralympic champion, American Kendall Gretsch – chasing a 10th straight World Triathlon Para-Tri victory since her dramatic silver medal in Tokyo.
Parker has chalked up individual and relay victories with her Australian teammates from Devonport and Stockton in Australia to Abu Dhabi, Montreal and Swansea. A 10th win will keep her remarkable unbeaten record intact as she eyes a unique place in Paralympic history - places on both the para-triathlon and para-cycling teams for next year’s Paris Games.
Parker’s coach Dan Atkins at the Queensland Performance Centre on the Gold Coast knows that her foray into the world of para-cycling will only make her a better triathlete.
“Cycling Australia has been very accommodating and been fantastic with allowing Lauren to do the cycling event whilst her focus is still triathlon. Both sports allowing her to have a red-hot crack at cycling,” said Atkins.
“Lauren’s riding has gone to a pretty high level, I had her up on the Gold Coast for a camp recently and her swimming and run legs are going really well too,” said Atkins.
“I hope she travels well from Belgium into Yokohama and she can put her herself out there for a great race, she loves to race.
“She’s always finding new challenge.
“We always find a way to adapt to what she is doing and she’s quite remarkable with what she does, there’s no doubting her love of racing and I’m proud of the way in which she goes about her preparation.
“She’s being very self-sufficient and has got fantastic support whether that be in cycling or triathlon. A lot of people are rallying around her to help her out, she’s making a lot of decisions for herself now and our athlete-coach relationship has gone to a whole new level.
“The way we work together, she has a lot of autonomy to make decisions. I sit there more as someone who she can bounce ideas around with. I help her map out her week, I’m enjoying it, I’m sure Lauren is as well, she’s happy and really content with what she’s doing.”
Australia’s para-triathlon depth is only going from strength-to-strength with the likes of Tokyo Paralympian David Bryant (PTS5), Liam Twomey (PTS4), Sally Pilbeam (PTS4) and PTVI pair Maggie Sandles and Caroline Baird all showing their abilities at the recent 2023 Oceania Triathlon Para Cup in Busselton, WA.
They will all be backing up in Yokohama alongside dual Paralympian Nic Beveridge (PTWC), Justin Godfrey (PTS3), Jack Howell (PTS5) and Anu Francis (PTS2).
Francis is coming back after suffering a fall in Devonport which cost her valuable training time while Bryant relished his hometown victory in Busselton.
Vision impaired duo Sandles and Baird are both excited to be racing, especially given Australia’s history with Katie Kelly’s Rio gold medal performance in PTVI and World Championship wins.
Kelly has also worked with Sandles as she plots her pathway into the international scene.
Triathlon Australia’s Paralympic Performance Manager Kyle Burns is excited with the group he is assembling towards the Paris Paralympic Test Event in August.
“Yokohama is an important race on the calendar to finalise and really sets the scene moving forward, with this being the last race before qualifying starts when they move into some pretty heavy racing,” said Burns.
“The bottom line is we really want to perform as a group - it’s the coming together of the generations with some exciting youngsters now classified and joining the established athletes and a group who are coming back and that’s what’s so exciting. “While this is a strong representation in Yokohama, we still have so many more to come back in.”
WTPS action from Yokohama kicks off this Saturday 13 May, from 7:50am AEST.
Nic Beveridge (PTWC)
Justin Godfrey (PTS3)
David Bryant (PTS5)
Jack Howell (PTS5)
Lauren Parker (PTWC)
Anu Francis (PTS2)
Sally Pilbeam (PTS4)
Maggie Sandles (PTVI) Guide Felicity Cradick
Caroline Baird (PTVI) Guide Annabel White
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