Lausanne 2019: Friendships put aside at Para triathlon Worlds
Training partners Allysa Seely and Hailey Danz will become rivals at the ITU Triathlon Grand Final28 Aug 2019
Allysa Seely and Hailey Danz shared the podium at the Rio 2016 Paralympics and will battle for the same position ahead of Tokyo 2020
ⒸOlympis Information Services
By Adam Bailey | For the IPC
US training partners Allysa Seely and Hailey Danz will be two of the Para triathletes to watch as the world’s best head to Lausanne, Switzerland, for the World Grand Final on Sunday.
Seely and Danz arrive in the Swiss city as the top two ranked triathletes in the women’s PTS2, but it is a rivalry which stems from a very strong friendship.
“When I first moved to Colorado Springs (to join the USA Para Triathlon Resident Team), I don't think either of us were sure of how it would go,” Danz said. “I think both of us were surprised to learn that we had much more in common than we originally thought, and we quickly became close friends.
“Every day, I get to see the bar that I am working towards, and that is unbelievably motivating. While we both want to succeed ourselves, both of us are invested in each other's success, and do our part to bring out the best in each other.”
Having claimed two Paralympic medals, four world titles, 52 podium spots and 28 international wins between them, Seely and Danz continue to be the triathletes to beat in the PTS2 classification (formerly PT2).
“We have different strengths and weaknesses and push each other in different training sessions,” Seely sayid. “However, I have never felt competitive animosity towards her as many might expect.
“I have no doubt that having Hailey next to me in the pool and on the roads has made me a better athlete, but the best part of our training relationship and friendship is I have never seen Hailey as a rival. I have and always will cheer for her success, and if someone is to beat me, I would undoubtedly hope it is her.”
The Tokyo 2020 Test Event earlier in August was unexpectedly changed to a duathlon, but Danz’ victory has given her confidence heading into the Grand Final, which includes the Para triathlon World Championships.
“I’m proud of how I was able to handle the sudden change of plans and adapt my game plan seamlessly,” Danz said. “I've got some really great momentum going right now and I'm feeling great physically and mentally, so I'm excited to see what I can do in Lausanne.”
While victory in Lausanne would be Danz’s first world title since 2013, Seely could win back-to-back golds and a fourth world title. But the Paralympic champion knows she will have to be at her best.
“The level of competition in Para triathlon has increased significantly since I started the sport, and it has been amazing to be a part of,” Seely said. “Any time an athlete has a breakthrough on the swim, bike or run, I want to match it.
“Winning my fourth world title heading into a Paralympic year would be incredible. It would show that my focus and training is progressing as we head for Tokyo next summer.”
Elsewhere, Australia’s Emily Tapp will be aiming for three world titles in as many years in the women’s PTWC but faces stern competition. A fourth world title is at stake for the Netherlands’ Jetze Plat in the men’s PTWC.
The USA’s Mark Barr is the defending champion in the men’s PTS2, with Great Britain’s Andy Lewis likely to be his main challenger.
Defending men’s PTS3 champion Dani Molina of Spain will compete in only his second triathlon of 2019. Russia’s Anna Plotnikova is the top ranked triathlete in the women’s PTS3.
Great Britain’s Hannah Moore only began triathlon in 2017 but she will take to the women’s PTS4 start line aiming for her second world title. France’s Alexis Hanquinquant has won back-to-back gold medals and remains the man to beat in the men’s PTS4.
In the men’s PTS5, Canada’s three-time world champion Stefan Daniel will face strong competition from Paralympic champion Martin Schulz of Germany.
The competition in the women’s event is likely to be just as fierce as Paralympic champion Grace Norman of the USA and Great Britain’s reigning world champion Lauren Steadman renew their rivalry.
David Ellis is another British triathlete arriving in Lausanne as defending champion in the men’s PTVI. Spain’s Susana Rodriguez could match Ellis’ feat of three world gold medals in the women’s event.