The 2018 World Triathlon Grand Final will crown Para triathlon world champions on Saturday (15 September) in Gold Coast, Australia. Here is a preview of each category:
In the men’s PTWC race, where athletes will all be using a recumbent handcycle on the bike course and racing wheelchair for the final segment, the Netherlands’ Jetze Plat will be looking to rekindle the level of performance that saw him win the gold in his home Grand Final 12 months ago. Plat has two World Series wins to his name this year from Yokohama, Japan, and Iseo, Italy.
The women’s PTWC race sees Australia’s Lauren Parker also owning the Iseo World Series gold in June and she will be looking to secure the same result on her home turf. But Japan’s seasoned race veteran Wakako Tsuchida boasts victories in Yokohama and Edmonton, Canada, proving her winning intent.
A 12-strong field will contest the men’s PTS2 led by Great Britain’s Andy Lewis, who is in the middle of an incredible run of results stretching back to his gold at the Rio 2016 Paralympics. The USA’s Mark Barr narrowly missed the podium in Brazil, and after second place in Rotterdam, Netherlands, at last year’s Worlds, he will feel ready to follow up his three World Series golds with a big showing in the Gold Coast.
The US duo of Allysa Seely and Hailey Danz will battle for the podium in the women’s event as they have all season. But Finland’s Liisa Lilja won gold in Lausanne, Switzerland, which was the final major test for many triathletes ahead of Saturday’s grand finale. Lilja returned to the International Triathlon Union (ITU) racing after what had been a brilliant 2017. Great Britain’s Fran Brown is also no stranger to the podium at the highest level.
The men’s PTS3 field sees six athletes going for gold, with veterans Daniel Molina of Spain and Australia’s Justin Godfrey having powered to gold and silver respectively in Rotterdam last year. But Great Britain’s Ryan Taylor will want to establish himself on the race and build off his sole World Series win from 2017 in Edmonton. The two women competing for the PTS3 gold will be Russia’s Anna Plotnikova* and France’s Elise Marc of France.
Thirteen athletes will line up for the men’s PTS4, with France’s Alexis Hanquinquant eyeing a second successive Grand Final gold. Also no stranger to the World Series podium, Russia’s Mikhail Kolmakov* makes his first Grand Final appearance, whereas Austria’s Oliver Dreier has vast experience that could help him to go one better than his silver here a decade ago. Australia’s Sally Pilbeam would love to win gold in front of her home fans, but Mami Tani’s remarkable run of results will make the Japanese star the one to beat in the women’s side.
The women’s PTS5 race could boil down to another fascinating contest between Great Britain’s Lauren Steadman, USA’s Grace Norman and France’s Gwladys Lemoussu, the trio that shared the Rotterdam podium and many since. But Canada’s young talent Kamylle Frenette could be a serious challenger this year. Eleven men line up in search of gold, with Britain’s George Peasgood in great form so far in 2018. But he will expect another strong challenge from Germany’s Martin Schulz. Canadian Stefan Daniel won gold in Edmonton, and Spain’s strong swimmer Jairo Ruiz Lopez cannot be ruled out of the medal places.
In the vision impaired races, nine women will be on the start line, with Australia’s Katie Kelly among the most experienced in the field, and the Paralympic champion looks like being the name to beat. If she can deliver a powerful bike segment, Spain’s Susana Rodriguez could yet take the tape, while Britain’s Alison Patrick arrives on the back of a fine win at the European Championships. So, too, does her compatriot Dave Ellis, who could lead the charge for the men’s gold just as he did last year. Ellis can expect a stiff challenge from USA’s Aaron Scheidies and Poland’s Lukasz Wietecki, however, while Jonathan Goerlach arrived back on home turf on a high after a brilliant run saw him land the gold in Edmonton six weeks ago.
*Editor's note: The International Paralympic Committee suspended the Russian Paralympic Committee on 7 August 2016 for its inability to fulfil its IPC membership responsibilities and obligations, in particular its obligation to comply with the IPC Anti-Doping Code and the World Anti-Doping Code (to which it is also a signatory). As a result of the suspension, Russian athletes cannot enter IPC sanctioned events or competitions, including the Paralympic Games.