Australia’s budding Paratriathlon star Katie Kelly will add a further twist to the saying “have bike will travel” when she lines up in Saturday’s ITU World Paratriathlon Event in Iseo-Franciacorta, Italy.
Canberra-based Kelly, who suffers from Ushers Syndrome, is legally blind and she has embarked on a journey that she hopes will take her all the way to Rio and next year’s Paralympics where the sport will debut.
Victory in Iseo-Franciacorta will see her world ranking jump from 12 to 10 and guarantee her a start at this year’s ITU World Championships in Chicago and a further step towards Paralympic qualification.
And it means a flying visit to Italy where she will rendezvous with her guide, 2000 Olympic silver medallist and two-time ITU World Champion and Hawaiian ironman World Champion, Michellie Jones – and her new Calfee tandem bike which Jones will bring to Iseo with her from California.
Katie used on-line crowd funding to raise the $20,000 to buy the bike and she managed it in less than a month which, says Triathlon Australia’s Paratriathlon Program Manager Kathryn Perriac “is a testament to her profile and the strength of her support around the country and the world.”
“It’s an American bike which is why Michellie will bring it in from the US to Italy, where the Australian Paratriathlon Team mechanic Micko Brice will meet up with girls to build it,” said Perriac.
“Michellie’s sponsors have added all sorts of bits too to make it utterly awesome.”
Because of their late start, the pair are lowly ranked in a system which takes the best three results from the last 12 months plus one from three of the best three results from the 12 months before that.
Katie’s first race was the Sunshine Coast WPE in March, which she won with a different guide and her second WPE was Yokohama where she won with Michellie.
As of now Katie’s main opposition will be from the athletes who finished second and fourth at the European Championships in Geneva last weekend, Joleen Hakker from Netherlands and Susana Rodrigues from Spain.
Katie’s facebook page is regularly updated (by friends as well as Katie) so you can follow her story here:
ITU Race Page link: