“I have always wanted to perform at a high level and win races so I think the pressure has always been there. I love what I do and I do absolutely everything to race as fast as possible. I want to keep dominating and keep the competition at a distance.”
Jetze Plat is going for his third world title in less than a month, as he takes on the International Triathlon Union (ITU) World Triathlon Grand Final on Friday (15 September) in Rotterdam, Netherlands.
The Dutch Para triathlete, who also competes as a handcyclist, won gold in both the time trial and road race at the recent UCI Para Cycling World Road Championships in South Africa (31 August-3 September).
“Winning gold in the time trial and road race was a dream come true,” Plat said. “I have dreamed of that moment since I started handcycling as a 12-year-old boy. I knew the courses in South Africa suited me and both races went perfect. My dream is now to be the world champion in two different sports, in one year.”
Plat’s performance on the handbike in South Africa has filled him with confidence. But there are two other sections in triathlon he did not get to train for in the past few weeks.
“The feeling heading into the grand final is, of course, really good, but I know my performance in South Africa doesn’t give me any guarantees in Rotterdam,” Plat said. “The last few weeks I was not really able to swim and also the racing chair wasn’t with me in South Africa. But, the shape is there and that’s the most important thing.”
Plat will take to the start line in Rotterdam unbeaten in international triathlon events since 2015. But the European, world and Paralympic champion said he does not feel any extra pressure as the “man to beat.”
“I have always wanted to perform at a high level and win races so I think the pressure has always been there,” Plat said. “I love what I do and I do absolutely everything to race as fast as possible. I want to keep dominating and keep the competition at a distance.”
Road to Tokyo
Plat will not be done after Rotterdam.
In October, he will take on the Ironman World Championships in Kailua-Kona, Hawaii, before his focus switches to Tokyo 2020.
“I follow the Kona race every year and it is a big dream to participate there,” Plat said. “I’m curious what I can do over the long distance. I’ve no real expectations because the distance is totally out of my comfort zone, but I’m hoping to finish inside nine hours. In 2018, the ‘Road to Tokyo’ will start so from then my focus will be on the short distance.”
The men’s PTWC event podium could be a Dutch battle, with Plat’s compatriot and Paralympic silver medallist Geert Schipper also targeting a top finish.
“The seed of my rivarly with Jetze was planted four years ago and the roots have grown so deep now that I want to win this race, but I’m a realist,” Schipper said. “I know that Jetze is top of the sport so it will be tough for me to beat him this year. Hopefully for me there comes a day that I will be the best in the world.”
Schipper has finished third at the World Championships twice and he is hoping to go at least one place better this year.
“I have already won two bronze medals so I would like to do better that this time,” Schipper said. “It gives me extra motivation to go for the gold medal, or at least a silver medal. I always push myself to the limit and Rotterdam will be no different. I just hope there’s a cup of coffee waiting for me at the finish!”
More information on the 2017 ITU World Para Triathlon Championships can be found on the event website.