Great Britain picked up five gold medals on Monday (22 October) at the ITU Para-Triathlon World Championships in Auckland, New Zealand.
Just four years before it makes its Paralympic Games debut at Rio 2016, para-triathlon’s top event featured 109 athletes from 21 countries, though the swimming leg was reduced from 750m to 300m per ITU rules due to the water temperature, and races started in three waves to complete the rest of the 20km bike and 5km run.
Great Britain’s gold medallists included Iain Dawson in the men’s TRI-6, Matthew Emmerson in the men’s TRI-5, Faye McClelland in the women’s TRI-4, Steven Judge in the men’s TRI-3, and Karen Darke in the women’s TRI-1.
Dawson finished under the hour mark, clocking a time of 57:38 to beat Lazar Filipovic, who won the first-ever para-triathlon medal for Serbia when he finished with the silver.
McClelland’s time of 1:02:33 in the women’s TRI-4 was more than two minutes better than second-place finisher Clare Cunningham’s, one of McClelland’s teammates.
USA and France each won two world titles, as Americans Melissa Stockwell won the TRI-2 event and Patricia Collins won the TRI-5 event, and Frenchmen Stephane Bahier and Yannick Bourseaux won the men’s TRI-2 and TRI-4 races, respectively.
Australia’s Bill Chaffey was the first finisher across the line in the men’s TRI-1, defending his world title from last year with a stellar wheelchair leg to roll past the USA’s Andre Kaljich. Chaffey said he was worried when his strongest discipline was cut short, but he still managed to pull away in the end.
“I spoke to my coach about it, he gave me a gameplan, you know the swim is your strength but you know you have done the work in the bike and the run too as well so you know, he talked me up well and got me through,” Chaffey told the ITU.
“He basically said, ‘don’t worry about anyone else,’ everyone is worried about you.”
Chaffey said he is excited to be a part of the sport in the lead-up to its Paralympic Games debut.
“It just keeps getting bigger and bigger which makes it more and more exciting, it’s very strong competition and each year everyone gets better and everyone keeps getting closer,” he said. “I’ve got to keep doing more work. But Rio, that’s No. 1.”
Canada and Spain also each took home world titles.
The 2016 Games host nation, Brazil, failed to win a world title, though Rodrigo Feola claimed bronze in the men’s TRI-6.
“Each year we are growing and growing in many different sports,” Feola told the ITU. “So, we have a good expectation for our Paralympic team, we think we will have lots of medals because we are working hard.”