RIO BECK­ONS FOR GB PARATRIATHLETES

It was a day of de­ci­sive wins for the Brits in South Africa para­triathlon

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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

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