Emily Tapp goes from unknown to world champion

Australian had never heard of Para triathlon until 2014 24 Oct 2018
Australia woman in wheelchair raises arms before crossing finish line

Emily Tapp captured her second world title at Gold Coast 2018

ⒸITU Media | Delly Carr

Emily Tapp never heard of Para triathlon until November 2014, when she met Australia’s national manager. Two months later, she was in her first competition.

Four years later, she became a double world champion.

“It was in my first race where I fell in love with the sport,” Tapp said. “I remember being on my bike and thinking ‘so this is what a triathlon is! I am actually doing a triathlon.’ As soon as I crossed the line I was hooked.”

Tapp won the women’s PTWC race at her home World Triathlon Grand Final, which includes the Para Triathlon Worlds, in September.

But a few months prior, she was not sure if she would even compete at Gold Coast 2018.

Whirlwind journey

Tapp went from the euphoria of winning her first world title in Rotterdam, Netherlands in 2017, to being bedbound week after having surgery on both her wrists to correct a carpal tunnel issue.

“It was a surreal feeling to go from intensive training to complete bed rest for six weeks,” Tapp recalled.

“Twelve months ago, I would never have expected to be at the World Grand Final again and win. But I knew the best I could do was put in the hard work and on race day be 100 per cent confident in the work I’ve done.”

All the pain, hard work and perseverance paid off in September, making Tapp’s victory in front of a home crowd even sweeter.

“Given the turbulent season leading into Worlds, I was very happy to be able to put in a performance that I feel like was somewhat back to my best and share that with a large contingent of family and friends who came to cheer me on,” Tapp said.

Road to redemption

Now, Tapp is looking to overcome Paralympic disappointment.

With the women’s PTWC class not included in the sport’s Games debut in 2016, Tapp was selected to represent Australia in athletics.

But, with three weeks to go until Rio 2016, Tapp was forced to withdraw after suffering burns to her leg. The disappointment fuelled Tapp’s motivation toward Tokyo 2020, where her category was confirmed for the programme.

“The Paralympics are the peak of our sport and it was obviously very disappointing to not be able to represent Australia and show the hard work I’d put in to get to that point on such a large stage,” Tapp said.

“However, sometimes setbacks make you hungrier and feel like I’m in a great place leading into Tokyo.”

Whilst competing in Tokyo is Tapp’s main goal, the Australian also has ambitions to return to her athletics roots.

“I would love to compete in the big -five marathons of Boston, Chicago, New York, Berlin and London,” Tapp said.