Australia’s paratriathletes will begin an exciting build up for this year’s ITU World Championships in tomorrow’s first ever World Paratriathlon Series race on the Gold Coast with Commonwealth Games places on the line for the Hand Cycle triathletes.
As a team, the green and gold Paratri group came together for the first time since Rio at the Oceania Championships in Devonport last month and have re-grouped on the glitter strip this week, chasing more bling, all-important WPS points and 2018 Games nominations.
By tomorrow morning there could well be the first two nominations for the 2018 Australian Commonwealth Games team of any sport followed by the Elite WTS races which also double as Games selection races.
At 7am Gold Coast five-time World Champion Bill Chaffey and fellow Gold Coaster and Rio team mate Nic Beveridge and Scott Crowley along with Brisbane’s Emily Tapp and Gold Coaster Sarah Tait will line up in the PTHC (Hand Cycle) events – the Commonwealth Games nominated category.
First Australian past the post in both the male and female will receive the first nominations from Triathlon Australia to the Commonwealth Games Association.
Triathlon Australia’s Paratriathlon Program Manager Kathryn Periac is excited with the opportunities that lay ahead for her athletes.
“Everyone is building towards a September focus and the World Championships in Rotterdam, then the Commonwealth Games and the start of the four-year cycle towards Tokyo 2020,” said Periac.
“For the PTHC guys that selection urgency is on the line tomorrow with the first nominations up for grabs for the first of two available 2018 Games spots with the second place discretionary picks.
“I am really pleased to see how well they have all progressed and to get the team back together and to build on our successes, support, work ethic and excellence ethic.”
Selection for 2018 would certainly be a well deserved reward for 25-year-old Emily Tapp who who grew up on a remote cattle farm out of Katherine in the Northern Territory.
If she can earn the automatic nomination after being forced to withdraw from the track and field team for last year’s Rio Paralympics it would be a dream that finally comes true.
Tapp, who suffered a campdrafting accident in 2011, which left her a paraplegic, burnt her legs in the lead up to Rio and after initially being cleared to race was forced out of the team during the pre-Games training camp in Florida.
She has since linked up with a new coach in Canberra, 2004 South African triathlon Olympian Megan Hall and expert wheelchair racing coach Fred Periac – with her eyes set on making the Commonwealth Games.
Her team mate, Gold Coaster, Sarah Tait won’t have to travel too far from home – her street runs onto the Gold Coast course.
For the men, Chaffey, Beveridge and Crowley, it will be a tough encounter with Netherlands Olympic champion Jetze Plat, the former champion hand cyclist at the top of the start list
Chaffey has bounced back after two recent race falls in Devonport and Kingscliff and the trainee police prosecutor knows he will have to stay in the saddle tomorrow as he and Beveridge and Crowley hit the Southport course – a 750m swim, 20km bike and 5km wheelchair run.
Rio Olympians, gold medallist Katie Kelly (PTVI) and her Guide, triathlon legend Michellie Jones, Kate Doughty (PTS5) and Brant Garvey (PTS2) will be joined on the start line by two-time ITU World Champion Sally Pilbeam and Keryn Harvey (PTS4), Glen Jarvis (PTS2), Justin Godfrey (PTS4), Josh Kassulke (PTS5) and Jonathan Goerlach and 46-year-old Paralympic legend Gerrard Gosens (PTVI) will line up in their new Scody race suits that honour Australia's World, Olympic, Paralympic and Commonwealth Games champions.
Saturday 8 April, 2017
Gold Coast ITU World Paratriathlon 7:00am - 9:50am
Gold Coast Mixed Team Relay 10:45am - 12:15pm
ITU World Triathlon Series Women 2:06pm 3:15pmITU World Triathlon Series Men 4:06pm - 5:00pm