Plat, Daniel, Norman take triathlon World titles18.09.2017
The 2017 ITU World Para Triathlon Championships saw epic performances in Rotterdam, Netherlands
The Netherlands’ Jetze Plat won his third world title, in two different sports, in less than a month. Canada’s Stefan Daniel found redemption from runner-up finishes at the last two major events. And the USA’s Grace Norman held off her strongest competitor in a final sprint finish, as the 2017 ITU (International Triathlon Union) World Para Triathlon Championships saw thrilling finishes on Friday (15 September) in Rotterdam, Netherlands.
The host nation had plenty to cheer as Plat and Geert Schipper went one-two in the men’s PTWC category. Plat, Paralympic gold medallist in Rio 2016 and world champion last year as, was coming off two gold medals from the UCI Para Cycling World Championships just weeks before. He crossed the finish line with a two minute difference over teammate Schipper.
“It really feels incredible. Last year I managed to win the World Championships here, but this year, being also the WTS Grand Final, is much more special,” Plat said. “I knew the course very well. My swim was good, the bike during the first two laps were also quite good but on the third lap it started raining and the course was really slippery. I had to keep my head under control. I knew I had a gap big enough to maintain so I just thought [don’t make] any mistakes and finishing,” said Plat.
Great Britain’s Joseph Townsend took the bronze.
In the women’s side, Australia’s Emily Tapp was the strongest to take the title. First one out of the water was Great Britain’s Jade Jones, but she was caught on the third lap of the bike by Tapp, who since then led the race until the last meters. Spain’s Eva Maria Moral Pedrero had an impressive comeback to take her third Worlds bronze.
There was an upset in the women’s race, as Finland’s Liisa Liljard crossed the finish line with emotion to secure her first ever world title. She beat one of the race favourites in the USA’s Paralympic champion Allysa Seely. There was another upset for Team USA as Great Britain’s Fran Brown beat Rio 2016 silver medallist Hailey Danz for bronze.
Great Britain’s Paralympic champion Andrew Lewis culminated a perfect season with gold in the men’s PT2. The USA’s Mark Barr had one of the fastest swims of the morning, but he was quickly caught by France’s Stephane Bahier, who led on the bike course. But when it all came to the run, Lewis passed Bahier and Barr, to finish first with over a minute difference with Barr, who took second. Rio 2016 bronze medallist Mohammed Lahna, racing under ITU flag, grabbed the bronze medal.
The men’s PTS3 race was dominated from start to finish by Spain’s Daniel Molina. He crossed the line with an almost three minute advantage over the rest of the field, increasing his bronze medal from last year to gold with the first world title of his career. Australia’s Justin Godfrey passed Germany’s Max Gelhaar in the run to take second and leave Gelhaat with bronze.
France’s Elise Marc became the women’s champions after leading the race from the start line to the finish. Her win was a large improvement from the World Championships held in Rotterdam the year before as she finished fourth. Russia’s Anna Plotnikova* was second, followed by Germany’s Maike Hausberger.
Despite having to serve a 10-second penalty for an irregular transition, France’s Alexis Hanquinquant had a dominating performance to earn the men’s PTS4 world title by over two minutes. Leading out of the swim, his first transition caused the penalty and an addition to his time. However, Hanquinquant headed out onto the bike still holding firm to the leader position and never slowed down. Great Britain’s Steven Crowley was second, followed by the USA’s Jamie Brown.
Japan’s Mami Tani and Aussie Sally Pilbeam kept the action close. While Tani exited the waters first, Pilbeam was 33 seconds behind. Keeping the pressure on, Pilbeam kept Tani in her sights. It was not until the end of the bike where Tani really gained some ground to guarantee her the win to complete a perfect 2017 season. Pilbeam then took second place and third went to the USA’s Patricia Collins.
Rio 2016 Paralympic silver medallist Daniel raced with a chip – or two – on his shoulders as he took his second World title in three years. He raced to his strength on the bike and run that earned him the crown. Exiting the swim over 30 seconds down from Great Britain’s George Peasgood, he closed the gap on the first lap of the bike to get into the lead position. He then never lost the lead and ran into the finish chute to grab the tape for his first title since 2015. Spain’s Jairo Ruiz Lopez was just a little over a minute behind Daniel, while the bronze went to USA’s Chris Hammer.
The women’s equivalent was just as epic, with the USA’s reigning Paralympic champion Grace Norman coming from behind in the run to successfully defend her title. Norman exited the waters first, but then was passed by Great Britain’s Lauren Steadman on the bike. Norman trailed just 18 seconds in the run however entering the bell lap and it was in the final metres where she caused the change in leadership. Norman then squeaked by to cross the line and claim the title. Steadman earned the silver finishing just four seconds short, while third place then went to France’s Gwladys Lemoussu.
Australia’s Rio 2016 Paralympic champion Katie Kelly took the over two-minute deficit from the swim and hammered away on the bike to become the race leader. Her power then never slowed down, and despite using a slower more cautious strategy on the bike with her guide Michellie Jones, they never were threatened out of the first position to hold onto their World title. Spain’s Susana Rodriguez and Great Britain’s Melissa Reid went two-three, respectively.
“It was a tough field out there today, a lot of those girls raced here last year and it was our first time. You know anything can happen in a triathlon race, lucky the conditions were good. But it is always a bit surreal when you finish first, I am very excited,” Kelly said.
Great Britain’s Dave Ellis took first place. The USA’s Aaron Scheidies was just 12 seconds behind Ellis to take second. Ukraine’s Vasyl Zakrevskyi took third, getting the fifth World Championship medal of his career.
*Editor’s note: The International Paralympic Committee suspended the Russian Paralympic Committee on 7 August 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. For further information please click here.