RIO BECKONS FOR GB PARATRIATHLETES
It was a day of decisive wins for the Brits in South Africa paratriathlon
WHAT ITU WORLD PARATRIATHLON (WPE) WHEN 20 MARCH WHERE BUFFALO CITY, SOUTH AFRICA
LAUREN STEADMAN and Alison Patrick have virtually rubber-stamped their way to Rio after storming to victory at the ITU World Paratriathlon Event in South Africa.
Their decisive wins in the first race of the season mean they have now met the British Triathlon automatic qualification criteria for Rio where Paratriathlon will make its Olympic debut.
In a top day of racing, Team GB scooped three gold, two silver and one bronze.
Steadman, 23, (racing with a new right arm) won the PT4 category in 1.13 and has now qualified for her third Paralympic Games but her first as a paratriathlete (having competed twice before as a swimmer). She said: “The top women weren’t here today so I planned to keep it steady and ensure that nothing went wrong. Meeting automatic qualification was the absolute priority.
“The swim was calm, the bike was a little hilly, but overall it was a great way to start the season.”
Both Steadman and Patrick had paved the way to Rio after winning the ITU Paratriathlon World Championships in 2014 and 2015.
Meanwhile Alison Patrick, 28, from Dunfermline won the PT5 race for visually impaired athletes, guided by Nicole Walters. She finished more than three minutes ahead of Spain’s Susana Rodriguez and will look forward to her first Paralympic Games where she will line up against ITU world champion, Katie Kelly of Australia.
Ryan Taylor, 22, a former England cerebral palsy footballer from Derby, demonstrated he’s a rising talent with gold in the men’s PT2 event. He won bronze at
the ITU World Championships and will have his opportunity to qualify for Rio later in the season.
David Hill bounced back from an injury-troubled 2015 and started the season with silver in the men’s PT4. He crossed the finish line less than a minute behind France’s Yannick Bourseaux who won ITU World Championship bronze in September. Phil Hogg was another silver medal winner in the PT1 category while Melissa Reid scooped bronze in the PT5 category with Hazel Smith guiding.
Proud head coach, Jonathon Riall said it was “a great start to 2016 with two more quota places secured for Rio and two athletes meeting automatic qualification.”
Steadman and Patrick will be put forward for selection by Paralympics GB in the summer. General selection for the rest of the team will take place following the ETU European Championships at the end of May and the conclusion of the ITU World Paratriathlon Event Series in June.
Steadman basks in gold