Heightened Awareness Surrounds Para-Triathlon Worlds

07 Sep 2011 By IPC

“Everyone, I think, regardless of disability or not, wants to go to the Olympics or Paralympics.”

When Sarah Reinertsen hits the water in Beijing, China, on Friday (9 September) at the ITU Para-Triathlon World Championships, she will be surrounded by more competition than she has faced at the event in her previous five appearances.

The American, a three-time world champion (TRI-2) in the short course distance, said she has noticed an increase in the number of competitors and heightened awareness surrounding Para-Triathlon since it was added to the Paralympic Games programme.

The International Paralympic Committee (IPC) announced Para-Triathlon’s inclusion on the programme for Rio 2016 last December.

“If you have that carrot sort of dangling, then it’s going to be a big incentive to people to get involved,” Reinertsen said. “Everyone, I think, regardless of disability or not, wants to go to the Olympics or Paralympics.”

Great Britain’s Charlotte Ellis, the reigning European and world champion (TRI-6), echoed Reinertsen’s sentiments.

“It’s the pinnacle. People are automatically drawn to sports that are included in the Paralympic Games,” Ellis said.

“I think there are more people taking interest. I think there are people who are training in cycling, running and swimming who may be interested in coming across after 2012.”

On Friday, 63 para-triathletes from 19 countries will compete across six different classifications in the short course, the same distance that will be part of the Rio 2016 programme.

They will have the opportunity to race on the same course that was used at the 2008 Olympic Games.

“It’s always fun to race on an Olympic course,” Reinertsen said. “That just jazzes you up. I’m really stoked to get to go to China and compete on the same course that the Olympic triathlon was contested on.”

Although 19 different countries will be represented in the field in Beijing, para-triathletes appear to be in agreement that they would like to see a more varied group of delegations taking part.

“I don’t want it to be just the western and European nations that are out there,” Reinertsen said. “I want to really see a global diversity.”

With last year’s event taking place in Hungary, this year’s in China, and next year’s in New Zealand, the sport is geographically beginning to take flight.

More countries are getting involved and athletes are crossing over from other sports.

By Rio 2016, the sport will have flourished.

Reinertsen said she will be challenged to up her performance before then.

“Along the way, I’m not going to just twiddle my thumbs until I get there. I’m doing an Ironman next year so I have a decent goal in 2012 to shoot for,” Reinertsen said.

“I think we all sometimes need those big goals to keep us engaged, motivated and dreaming big.”