All five para-triathlon sport classes will be contested at the Rio de Janeiro World Para-triathlon Event (WPE) on Saturday, 1 August. The Rio WPE race is just the second opportunity in a year-long campaign to score Paralympic Qualification Points.
While only six of the 10 sport classes will be conducted at the 2016 Paralympic Games, the race on Saturday dually serves as the Paralympic Test Event. Those sport classes to be contested in 2016 include men’s PT1, PT2 and PT4 and women’s PT2, PT4 and PT5.
Australia’s Bill Chaffey leads the men’s PT1 category as the most successful veteran of the athletes lining up, as he owns four World Championship titles. An avid age group triathlete that was injured while out training, Chaffey turned his love of the sport to para-triathlon, and has dominated the sport class ever since.
However, the division has grown extremely competitive with the likes of Great Britain’s Phil Hogg, the Netherlands’ Geert Schipper and the USA’s Krige Schabort posting wins in the last several years. Add in the Netherlands’ Jetze Plat, who will sit Rio out in favor of competing at UCI Para-cycling Road World Championships as he attempts to qualify for Paralympics in both para-hand cycling and para-triathlon, and this sport class is loaded with talent.
Russia’s reigning world champion Vasily Egorov is the man to watch in PT2. Since beginning the sport two years ago, he has lost just two races, both of which were to Italy’s Michele Ferrarin who will not race on Saturday. Egorov’s next threat comes from USA’s Mark Barr, who is a two-time World Para-triathlon event winner. Like Barr, expect Germany’s Stefan Loesler and the Brazilian duo of Tiago Matthes and Andre Barbieri to push for the podium.
One of the sport classes selected to debut at the Paralympics next year, women’s PT2 showcases a dazzling field of women. The USA’s Melissa Stockwell, a soldier who was injured in Iraq before qualifying for the 2008 Paralympics as a swimmer, has since turned her attention to para-triathlon. A new mother, the three-time world champion recently returned to competing and has already scored a string of podium finishes this season.
Compatriot Hailey Danisewicz is strong in both the front and back end of the race and will likely challenge Stockwell for the top spot, as will Brazil’s Yasmin Martins. At just 20-years-old, Martins improvement is expected to continue onwards and upwards.
Laced with talent, the men’s PT4 sport class showcases a depth that makes this race one you cannot miss. Germany’s two-time world champion Martin Schulz is the dominant force to be reckoned with, having lost just one race in the last three years.
Behind him, the young Stefan Daniel has a bright future. Last year, at just 17-years-old, he scored silver in the World Championship race and announced himself as one to watch on the road to Rio. Paralympic skier turned para-triathlete, Yannick Bourseaux has endured two injuries over the last year, but when he is full strength, the Frenchman is dangerous. Likewise, the USA’s Chris Hammer (USA) and Spain’s Jairo Ruiz Lopez will both impact the race with their speed.
Like PT2, women’s PT4 will line up in Rio next year with a superstar list of athlete. The Brits are strong in the sport class, having swept the podium at the 2014 World Championships. Last year, Paralympic swimmer Lauren Steadman ended compatriot Faye Mcclelland’s four-year World Championship winning streak when she scorched out the top performance for gold. Mcclelland followed with second while Clare Cunningham took bronze. While Cunningham will not be lining up on 1 August, you can be sure that her British teammates will be well represented on the podium.
Another sport class selected for the Rio Paralympics, women’s PT5 is an unpredictable race bound to excite. Great Britain are again strong with dynamite teams in Alison Patrick and Melissa Reid. Their European competitors, Spain’s Susana Rodriguez (ESP) and the Netherlands’ Joleen Hakker, often challenge them, with the four flip flopping positions on the podium in European circuits. The standout athlete from the Pan American nations, look for the USA’s Patricia Walsh to mix it up, as well.
PT3, Men’s PT5
Brazil will give the home crowd something to cheer for as they are guaranteed the top three podium positions with the start list dominated by Brazilians Edson Dantas, Jorge Luis Fonseca and Roberto Carlos Silva in the men’s PT3 sport class. The Pan American Champion, Silva is expected to be the strongest of the men on Saturday.
The men’s PT5 sport class is wide open with the USA’s Brandon Adame, Spain’s Jose Luis Garcia Serrano and South Africa’s David Jones the three lining up. As long as she finishes the race, gold is on the horizon for Brazil’s Fernanda Katheline Pereira as the sole participant in the women’s PT3 sport class. Please note, there are no athletes in the women’s PT1 sport class.
Start lists for the event can be found on the ITU website.
The Rio 2016 Paralympic Games will take place between 7-18 September, and tickets for the Games will go on-sale on 7 September 2015.