Para triathlon: 5 things we learned from 2017

The year saw many athletes kicking off the next Paralympic cycle in style 25 Dec 2017
a Para triathlete cycles on a bike

Finland's Liisa Lilja missed six months of 2018 following surgery on an ankle injury


The sport made its Paralympic debut at Rio 2016, and 2017 was a big opportunity for Para triathletes to build upon that milestone.

The year saw a World Championships, new athletes showing talent ahead of Tokyo 2020 and a Dutch sports machine dominate.

1. Plat plows through

Initially planning to take the year easy, the Netherlands’ Jetze Plat’s 2017 ended up being anything but simple. After winning two gold medals at the World Para Cycling Championships, Plat defended his triathlon world title on his home course in Rotterdam, adding to the Paralympic gold he won in Rio. After, he went for even longer distances with the Ironman Championships in Hawaii – which he also won in his division.

2. Men’s PTS5 will remain a battle

Canada’s Stefan Daniel had a big year to follow-up on his silver medal from Rio. The 20-year-old talent won five events, including the World Championships. This year however was a quiet one for the reigning Paralympic champion and Daniel’s rival Martin Schulz. Schulz captured the European title but suffered an injury at the Worlds and did not finish the race. However, expect Schulz to be hungry for a comeback in 2018.

3. Grace Norman maintains status

The US Paralympic champion was the youngest athlete in the Rio 2016 field and made headlines when she won the gold medal. She followed that up with another strong finish in Rotterdam in the women’s PTS5, passing her British rival Lauren Steadman on the bike for her second straight world title. These two look set to continue their battle for dominance in 2018.

4. Finland’s Lilja rising

Liisa Lilja surprised in Rotterdam as she beat reigning Paralympic and world champion Allysa Seely of the USA in the women’s PTS2. It was her fourth win in 2017, and a morale-boosting year after missing the podium at Rio 2016.

5. Can anyone beat Katie Kelly?

The women’s PTVI category has been dominated by Australia’s Katie Kelly and guide Michellie Jones. Australia’s Rio 2016 Paralympic champions won their second straight world title, and no one seems to be coming close to them.