Lauren Steadman will see how her offseason spent on the popular British TV show “Strictly Come Dancing” translates to triathlon when she takes on the World Para Triathlon Series (WTS) on Friday in Montreal, Canada.
It will be the 26-year-old’s first international competition since a glittering 2018 season that saw her go unbeaten, especially regaining her World Championship title.
A third world title was the beginning of a “whirlwind” few months for Steadman, who made an unusual transition by swapping the swim, bike and run for the dancefloor on “Strictly Come Dancing,” where celebrities are paired with professional dancers.
She reached the semi-finals with partner AJ Pritchard but were knocked out in a dance off.
After months of juggling her training and dancing, Steadman returned to full-time training 10 weeks ago and said she has “learned not to underestimate myself.”
“For me it is going to be interesting to see where I am at,” she said. “I had an absolutely amazing season last year, but I know I can’t go in expecting things to be as they were when I left them in Australia [for the 2018 World Championships].”
The Montreal WTS opens the qualification period for the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games, and the competition for Steadman will be stiff.
The top-five from last year’s Worlds will all be in action in the women’s PTS5, including the USA’s Paralympic champion Grace Norman and Steadman’s compatriot Claire Cashmore.
“It’s been very hard to get my head around this season because it is so different from what I am used to, but I am confident it is going in the right direction,” Steadman said. “Montreal will be a good test because it should be a really competitive race.
“The fact that there are three to five girls in the world that are pushing the standard forward means you just never know what is going to happen. Everyone has their own strengths and weaknesses which makes it really exciting heading into a race.
“A good race for me is to come out injury free. I would love to win, but to be on the podium would be a great start to the season,” the Paralympic silver medallist added.
If Steadman qualifies, Tokyo 2020 would be Steadman’s fourth Paralympics, having represented Great Britain in swimming at Beijing 2008 and London 2012, and triathlon when the sport debuted at Rio 2016.
“These next few months are about getting back to a standard of fitness, being competitive, but the main goal is to make sure I qualify for Tokyo,” Steadman said. “It would be my absolute honour to bring home a gold medal next year.”
A tough field
Dutch Paralympic and three-time world champion Jetze Plat headlines the men’s PTWC, being undefeated in international triathlon since 2015.
All three medallists from last year’s Worlds will feature in the women’s PTWC, while the USA’s Allysa Seely targets a seventh successive World Series success in the women’s PTS2.
French double PTS4 world champion Alexis Hanquinquant is aiming for a hat-trick of World Series victories following successes in Milan and Yokohama.
Canada’s Stefan Daniel renews his rivalry with Germany’s Martin Schulz on home soil in the men’s PTS5.
World champions Dave Ellis of Great Britain and Susana Rodriguez of Spain are also the highest ranked triathletes in their respective PTVI categories.