Photo Credit: Triathlon Australia
By Triathlon Australia
Australia’s hardy band of Paratriathletes survived the spills of a thrilling day’s racing to win two silver and two bronze medals on the final day of Commonwealth Games triathlon with England grabbing double Games gold.
Rio 2016 teammates Nic Beveridge (1:03.28) and Bill Chaffey (1:04.13) claimed silver and bronze for the Aussies in the men’s race at Southport, before Emily Tapp (1:12.56) and Lauren Parker (1:13.48) continued their rise in the sport by taking silver and bronze in the women’s race.
England did their best to rain on the Aussie parade though, with Joseph Townsend (1:02.39) and Jade Jones (1:11.07) both stealing the lead for the first time during the run leg before storming to victory.
But the races were not without its fair share of drama with five-time world champion Chaffey crashing on the second lap of the handcycle but he dusted himself off and pushed on despite damaging his handcycle.
The “never-say-die” Chaffey had to push the final two laps with no left hand pedal and an inability to change gears due to a broken cable.
As hard as he worked Chaffey struggled to catch Beveridge and Townsend – it was gold medal hopes over.
And with the finish line in sight Paratri rookie, Parker rolled her racing chair at the top of the straight, leaving her sprawled momentarily on the blue carpet – only to be righted by handlers – allowing her to charge across the line for bronze.
In the men’s race it was Beveridge who had a great swim and it set him up for a breakthrough performance and another major step in building his international reputation.
An emotional Beveridge, who has been one of the faces of the Games on the Gold Coast, said it would take a while for him to process his outstanding result.
“Your body takes so much stress in triathlon training and to be able to put together a performance like this, it would have to be a personal best effort for me,” said the tough-as-teak Queenslander.
“I knew I just had to keep myself in the race and keep hitting the rims hard and trying to do the best I could to stay in there and just see where I finish up.”
For Chaffey, the race brought to an end a glittering international ITU Paratriathlon career in the green and gold, but it wasn’t the fairy-tale finish he dreamed of.
“I don’t know whether it’s bad luck or just sheer stupidity. I went round that corner twice and it was fine. But I knew Joe [Townsend] was catching me and of course, the pressure got to me, I cooked it too hard and I stuffed up. I’ll live with that for the rest of my life,” Chaffey said.
“I always knew this would be my last international race. I’m happy to be known as someone who never gives up and gives their all every race, I showed how I can keep going.”
Tapp and Parker both stated their intention to push hard for their Paralympic debuts in Tokyo 2020 after today’s race, fought out in blazing sunshine and in front of a raucous home crowd.
It was Parker’s first international Paratriathlon at a major event, just one year after a horrific accident which resulted in broken ribs and shoulder, a punctured lung and spinal cord damage.
“I’m so proud of myself, I’ve come a long way since my accident and to be here today makes me really proud,” Parker said. “To come away with a bronze medal just tops it off.”
Parker went out strong with a convincing lead in the swim. The newcomer to the Paratriathlon scene, tried to hold on during the ride leg, but was gradually wound in by eventual winner, Jade Jones from England.
Tapp kept her cool all day, with a consistent swim and bike legs, knowing that it was in the run that was her chance to catch Parker.
She had her chance with one technical turn before the finish line chute, with Tapp taking home the silver and Parker the bronze for the Australian team.
The Aussie duo were defeated by former England Para athletics racer Jones, whose expertise in the run-leg was evident when she mowed down her rivals and blazed home.
“As an elite athlete, it is always disappointing not to be on the top. I won’t say it’s a complete disappointment because I gave it everything I could,” Tapp said.
Scott Crowley (fifth) and Sara Tait (sixth) were the only other Aussie Para-triathletes in action today.