The World Championships might be complete, but the qualification process for the Tokyo 2020 Paralympics is ongoing, and that is the motivation for many athletes racing at the World Cup in Sarasota-Bradenton, USA, on Sunday (14 October).
The USA’s Amy Dixon, who took seventh in the women’s vision impaired in September’s Worlds, is looking forward to ending the year on a strong note.
“Yes [my target is] getting some last qualification points to help get on the team for next season, plus it is always a pleasure to be able to race at home,” she said.
Dixon has raced on the course four times already, including last year’s World Cup when she won the women’s PTVI category. The defending champion admitted there are a few nerves ahead of race day.
“I don’t think it would be race day without some nerves, I think those two things go hand-in-hand,” Dixon said. “I am kind of excited, this is one of my favourite bike courses. It is a flat and fast course and it has good visibility for Kirsten [Sass, Dixon’s guide] to navigate and see where our competition is, so that helps us strategically.”
At 42-years-old, Dixon is one of the oldest and most experienced athletes competing on Sunday, but is excited for the new talent on show in Sarasota.
“The vision impaired category is very competitive, especially as we get closer to a Paralympics and I am the old lady of the group,” Dixon said. “It is always a good day of racing because we get a lot of newer athletes from the US who are just coming into the sport, so it is exciting to see the sport grow at home.”
Dixon is among an all-USA field competing in the women’s PTVI competition, including Elizabeth Baker, who is ranked number four in the world.
The men’s PTVI event features 13 athletes from seven different nations, including USA’s Brad Snyder who finished third on this course at the American Championships in March, in what was his first ever international triathlon.
Brazil’s Fernando Aranha has fond memories of Sarasota having recorded back-to-back wins at the American Championships in the men’s PTWC category. But Howie Sanborn will lead the home hopes having already finished on the World Cup podium twice this season. Australia’s Commonwealth silver medallist Nic Beveridge is also one to watch.
From winter to warmer
In the women’s equivalent, USA’s Kendall Gretsch will be aiming to maintain her unbeaten record in international Para triathlon. The 26-year-old – who won double gold at March’s Paralympic Winter Games – extended her winning run to 13 races with victory at the Magog World Cup in July.
Japan’s Keiichi Sato, another triathlete who competed at PyeongChang 2018, will headline the men’s PTS5 event.
The USA’s Adam Popp will aim to improve on his third-place finish from last year in the men’s PTS2.
Japan’s Hideki Uda has been a regular on the men’s PTS4 podium this season, but he will head to Sarasota looking for his first win of 2018. China’s Jiachao Wang beat Uda at the Asian Championships and will try to do the same on Sunday.
The top two from the USA National Championships will renew their rivalry in the women’s PTS4 with Kelly Elmlinger competing in only her third Para triathlon.