“It's a very exciting development in the sport as now we have more international competitions which can only help increase the standard of competition in para-triathlon going forwards.”
The world is racing to France this Sunday (26 May) with a mixed bag of para-triathletes who will compete at the 2014 Besancon ITU World Para-Triathlon event.
The race at Bescanon is the third world event of the season following Elwood and Yokohama. It will also be the most diverse field of athletes from around the world.
For the race, 17 different nationalities will be represented by 60 athletes. This is a jump from the 2013 event — the first in para-triathlon — which featured 48 athletes, 30 of whom were from France.
Unlike the 2013 edition, the race this year will have a cap. The 60 athletes were dwindled down from 123 registrations — those with the best results were chosen, said Alisson Decharriere, a media guide for the race.
A majority of para-triathletes at the race will be from around Europe including Spain, Germany, Great Britain and Serbia among others. Other racers will come from the USA and as far as Brazil. Eleven of the competitors are from France.
A lengthy list of competitors could mean some rich races at Besancon.
The women’s PT4 class could be as compelling as any. Every competitor in the category will represent a different country. Among the participants will be veteran Clare Cunningham, the World Champion in 2009.
The new point structure — where athletes must compete for the most points in order to attend Championship events — will encourage more international participation said Cunningham.
“It's a very exciting development in the sport as now we have more international competitions which can only help increase the standard of competition in para-triathlon going forwards,” said Cunningham.
“I cannot control what others do, only what I do, and so I focus on myself, follow the processes I have been working on in training and try to ensure I produce the best performance I can. Hopefully that will be good enough to provide a good result, but I cannot worry about whether another athlete will be faster than me on the day.”
Getting to June’s European and August’s World Championships is the goal for Cunningham this season.
“I have been a medallist in every European and World Championships I have competed in since 2009, and so I would like to continue my run of medal winning performances in major championships this year,” Cunningham said.
In the women’s PT4 class—the deepest of the five women divisions, Cunningham will face Gwladys Lemoussu (France), Irene Riviera (Ireland), Anna Bychkova (Russia), Saskia Van Den Ouden (Netherlands) and Andrea Thamm (Germany).
As with the women’s side, the men’s PT4 will see the most competitors. Both Yannick Bourseaux, Benjamin Landier and Stephane Leroy will represent France.
Other competitors will include: Simon Gaenger (Germany), Sjaak Van Den Berg (Netherlands), Alexander Yalchik (Russia), Chris Frost (Great Britain), Martin Schulz (Germany), Sebastian Jensen(Denmark), Jairo Ruiz Lopez (Spain), Adrian Hethfield (Great Britain) and Manuele Cavaliere (Italy).