The paratriathletes were first out on course at the World Series Triathlon event in Yokohama this morning, with racing underway at 6.55am local time under drizzly and overcast skies that turned to heavy rain midway through the run, making for tricky conditions.
With qualifying points on the line for the Chicago World Championships in September and the Rio 2016 Olympic Games, competition was intense across the Olympic paratri categories with athletes from around the world lining up chasing those vital points on the road to Rio.
Winners across the various Paratri categories were: Krige Schabort (USA) PT1, Mark Barr (USA) PT2, Denis Kungurtcev (RUS) PT3, Alexander Yalchik (RUS) PT4 and Lukasz Wietecki (POL) PT5 for the men. On the women’s side the winners were: Emily Tapp (AUS) PT1, Yukako Hata (JPN) PT2, Kate Doughty (AUS) PT4 and Katie Kelly (AUS) PT5.
The shock for the locals was the disqualification of headline Paratriathlete Junpei Kimura in the PT1 category. The Japanese star had picked up a penalty during the race but did not serve it before crossing the line and was immediately notified by the technical officials.
Katie Kelly (Australia) raced for the first time with two time world elite champion and Olympic silver medalist Michellie Jones and spoke afterwards of a first time race with her new partner.
“It was probably more challenging for MJ on the bike, once we did a couple of laps though and knew the course on the bike it was all good. That is the first time we raced together so that is always a bit different, but in terms of the swim in the harbor and the ride and the run there was great crowd support and it is a well-organized event so it was great fun.”
For Jones this was a new experience to add to the CV, and one she loved.
“That was the first time riding a tandem in a race so that was good, for me the technical aspect was perfect, it taught me a lot really quickly so our plan was to take it easy on the first lap and give it more of a go, as long as Katie is happy, I am happy. You had to back off a little in the corners, we hit the straights as hard as we could, we had one scary moment and I was like ‘whooaa - pilot error’, but it was good, the more technical it is, the quicker I am going to learn.”
Kelly is delighted with where the sport is heading.
“I think it is fantastic that Paratri is making it to Rio but then also to have someone like Michellie who has done so much in the sport as an elite athlete, this is an opportunity for all athletes out there to give something back a little, we don’t take it for granted, we are so grateful for the opportunity and overall it is fantastic for the sport.”
Mellisa Stockwell (USA) was another to be pleased with her day in the testing conditions, the three time world champion happy with a runner-up finish with new husband Brian and new baby Dallas Patrick watching in the rain.
“I am happy, I had a good day, good swim, I can always improve on the bike and I felt pretty strong on the run and anytime I get to pass that finish line I am happy, taking it day by day, I am pretty happy. Two or three 180 turns meant we had to slow down and almost stop to make the complete turn and especially with the wet roads and be careful not to break on those wet lines. I am happy with the points for second place, the goal is to get points and continue on that road to Rio. I am coming back from having a baby 5 and a half months ago, every race I am improving a little so I feel I can only continue to improve and get better.”
Mark Barr (USA) was another of the winners on the day, taking out the men’s PT2 category.
“It was a lot of fun, a little wet but we knew that coming in so prepared mentally and executed well regardless of the rain. Maximum points at this race was the goal coming in, moving forward we will see where the world rankings are after this. This has been amazing, great for paratriathlon, the most well run race I have ever attended and I will be back every single time they have this race. Back to training for me now, we will see about racing, I am not sure what is next just yet.”
Full results found here
Find more details and event images from - 2015 Yokohama ITU World Paratriathlon Event
Images: ITU/ Delly Carr