Reigning gold medallist Katie Kelly and world No.1 Lauren Parker are among an elite six-athlete Para-triathlon squad welcomed onto the Australian Paralympic Team for Tokyo 2020 at an induction ceremony held on Monday.
Kelly became Australia’s first Paralympic triathlon champion when she and guide Michellie Jones won the PT5 classification at Rio 2016, the first Games in which Para-triathlon was included.
Kelly, who will race with new guide Briarna Silk in Tokyo, will be joined by Parker, the 2019 World Champion in the PTWC classification, Rio 2016 representative Nic Beveridge (current world No.8 in the PTWC classification), Emily Tapp (world No.3 PTWC), Jonathan Goerlach with guide Dave Mainwaring (world No.4 PTVI) and David Bryant (world No.12 PTS5).
“It’s an outstanding Team,” Kelly said. “There are some outstanding athletes who’ve been in the triathlon game for a long time and are really ready to make their mark in Tokyo.
“I think for all of us there’s just a great sense of gratitude at the moment. We’re so grateful the Games are going ahead, so grateful for the country we live in and being able to keep training over the last 12 months.
“Our hearts and thoughts have been with all our triathlon competitors overseas, especially in Spain and Italy where they’ve had some really tough times. We also have admiration for the courage of the Japanese in staging the Games.
“Being over in Yokohama to compete recently, I had a strong sense that they want to hold these Games and they’re doing everything possible to make sure it’s safe for the athletes and their own people. All that combined gives our Para-triathlon Team a real sense of excitement and gratitude that it’s happening. It’s going to be a really joyous celebration.”
Australian Team Chef de Mission Kate McLoughlin said she was eager to see the squad consolidate their credentials on the course at Odaiba in Tokyo.
“I’m thrilled to welcome these exceptional athletes to the Australian Paralympic Team,” McLoughlin said.
“Para-triathlon is an absorbing physical and mental test and the group we’ve named today are as tough and driven as they come.
“Each of them has set incredibly high standards since Rio and their opportunity now is to convert that on the biggest stage and show the world what an awesome Australian Para-triathlon Team we have.”
Paralympics Australia Chief Executive Lynne Anderson thanked Triathlon Australia for their support.
“We know how challenging it’s been to prepare for these Games, which makes the achievement of the athletes, their coaches and the staff at Triathlon Australia all the more worthy of our admiration,” Anderson said.
“This squad will head to Tokyo with a fierce determination to establish Australia as a powerhouse in Para-triathlon and I’m backing them to accomplish exactly that.”
Triathlon Australia’s Paratriathlon Lead Kyle Burns is excited at what lies ahead for a Team and a sport that has come a long way since its debut in Rio and is well equipped to handle what will be a unique Games.
“Since Rio there has been a dedication to putting a performance environment around each athlete and allowing them to have the resources to reach their potential,” Burns said.
“The program is older and wiser and, led by TA’s Performance Director Justin Drew, it is aimed at maximising the talent of our Para-athletes in what is a relatively young but very competitive sport.
“The athletes go to Tokyo with a clear objective to perform in the biggest race of their careers and they look forward to representing their country, Paralympics Australia and Triathlon Australia on the world stage.”