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Goerlach and guide all set for test in Tokyo

Not even a typhoon could derail TNSW paratriathlete Jonathan Goerlach and his guide Sam Douglas in their preparations for this weekend’s Tokyo Test Event for the 2020 Paralympics.

Heat and humidity should not be an issue for Jonathan Goerlach (PTVI) and his guide Sam Douglas at this weekend’s Tokyo Test Event despite local typhoons forcing the duo abruptly change travel plans to Japan.

 Goerlach is one of seven Australian paratriathletes to make the Australian team, along with fellow New South Wales native Lauren Parker (PTWC) of the Newcastle Tri Club. The 36-year-old Goerlach, who was diagnosed with Usher Syndrome Type II, presenting him with moderate hearing loss, no peripheral vision and night-blindness, has spent the past week with Douglas finding alternative training methods to best to mimic the conditions expected on Saturday. 

“We’ve been doing a bit of heat acclimatisation in saunas and steam rooms,” Goerlach told Triathlon NSW. “We’ve been doing a bit of that every day to help with the transition from Australian winter to summer in Japan. 

“But we did not actually lose too much time in terms of training as the typhoons shut hard training down in Miyakojima-shi [Okinawa, Japan] for a few days, so we were better off staying in Australia and training in our home environment.” 

The current third-ranked PTVI paratriathlete in the world has been racing with the 27-year-old Douglas for more than a year now after spending the last seven years since his paratriathlon debut in 2012 racing with multiple guides, including six in as many world championship appearances. However, the Sydney Triathlon Group tandem instantly clicked, winning their first race together — the Edmonton ITU World Paratriathlon Series (WPS) in July of last year. 

With the end goal being 2020 Paralympic qualification, and the Tokyo Test Event offering minimal points toward that goal being a World Cup event, Goerlach admits familiarisation of the course in the main objective, but that winning the race is still the desired outcome. 

“In Tokyo, the objectives are slightly different than what it will be for the world championships two weeks later,” explained Goerlach. “The points available for winning the Tokyo World Cup is about the same amount of points to finishing third or fourth in a WPS event. 

“The main objectives are around familiarising ourselves with the course, with racing in the heat and gaining a lot of data on how our bodies are responding to the heat which is pretty much exactly the same time we will be racing the Tokyo Paralympics. 

“We obviously want to win and want to do well,” continued the reigning Oceania Champion, who coming off a fifth-place result at WPS Montréal after a silver medal for both him and Douglas at WPS Yokohama and Devonport World Cup. “But mostly, we want to become familiar with the course and take away as much as we can to build on our training for next year.” 

One test facing Goerlach is the swim.  

The Tokyo Test Event has been designated a non-wetsuit swim following the ITU paratriathlon rule change that sees the water temperature for wetsuits drop from 28 degrees Celsius to 24.6. For able-bodied age-group athletes in a similar sprint distance swim leg (750m), the rule is 22°C and 20°C for the pros.

“The other element is it's a non-wetsuit race, and not being a strong swimmer I’ve not actually ever raced a triathlon without a wetsuit,” said Goerlach, who admittedly struggled to swim 50 metres when he first started the sport seven years ago. 

“The rules until the start of this year was that 28°C was the limit for paratriathletes, which is quite hot. I raced in Penrith when it was 27.6°C and nearly hyperventilated because it was so hot in my wetsuit, but I chose to wear it because I was always going to get the advantage I needed by swimming in it. So, that is going to be another interesting factor.  

“With what happened to the actual course — with the typhoons at the moment — it only takes a small amount of rain for the swim course to be polluted, so it will be very interesting how it plays out. Overall it’s going to be very beneficial just out there racing on that course.  

“Either way, Sam and I are ready.”



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