Triathlon at Par­a­lympics aided by Kiwi

Kapi-Mana News - - OUT & ABOUT - COLIN WIL­LIAMS

Sil­ver­stream’s Mar­guerite Christo­phers has played a key role in triathlon com­pe­ti­tion get­ting a start at the Par­a­lympic Games for the first time.

Christo­phers is in Rio to act as the International Triathlon Union’s chief clas­si­fier for the three-dis­ci­pline event.

She has been clas­si­fy­ing triath­letes with dis­abil­i­ties since 2007 and, to­gether with an ITU re­search team, has de­vel­oped a sys­tem which will see para­triath­letes com­pete equally across the 750-me­tre swim, 20-kilo­me­tre cy­cle and 5km run.

‘‘Be­cause it is a mul­ti­dis­ci­pline sport, the para­triathlon throws up a num­ber of chal­lenges for clas­si­fi­ca­tion and there had to be in­ten­sive re­search done ahead of our de­vel­op­ing a uni­ver­sal sys­tem,’’ Christo­phers said.

Christo­phers, a former New Zealand triathlon rep­re­sen­ta­tive at age group level, is em­ployed at Par­a­lympics New Zealand.

A ca­reer oc­cu­pa­tional ther­a­pist, she worked at the Hal­berg Dis­abil­ity Sports Foun­da­tion be­fore tak­ing up her cur­rent role in 2007.

She is an ad­vo­cate for high­per­for­mance par­a­lympic sports but her head clas­si­fier role at Rio is a vol­un­tary po­si­tion.

‘‘Our six-mem­ber re­search group has been get­ting to­gether for­mally at world or re­gional champs since 2010 when the para­triathlon was con­firmed for Rio,’’ she said.

‘‘With most of the ITU group based in Europe, and be­ing the only one from the South­ern Hemi­sphere, it’s meant a lot of travel over the years or late night, longdis­tance Skype meet­ings.

‘‘Thank­fully I’ve got a very sup­port­ive and un­der­stand­ing em­ployer,’’ she said.

The ITU Clas­si­fi­ca­tion groups dis­abled ath­letes into a class for com­pe­ti­tion with other ath­letes with sim­i­lar sport ac­tiv­ity lim­i­ta­tions.

It in­volves med­i­cal as­sess­ment of im­pair­ment, tech­ni­cal as­sess­ment of their abil­i­ties and ob­ser­va­tion in com­pe­ti­tion.

Christo­phers said the hard work for the clas­si­fiers for Rio had been in get­ting to the start line.

‘‘Just as it is for the para­triath­letes, so I say let the games be­gin.’’

The para­triathlon events at Rio are on Septem­ber 10 for the men and Septem­ber 11 for women. There are 30 ath­letes com­pet­ing in each event but no New Zealan­ders are in­volved.

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