“I laughed when I was first approached to try triathlon as I didn’t even know what order it happened in. People around me always told me that I had the talent to go far, but I never believed it myself.”
Despite already holding the world, European and Paralympic titles, Great Britain’s Andrew Lewis still wants to finish the season strong at the International Triathlon Union (ITU) Sarasota Para Triathlon World Cup on Sunday (8 October) in the USA.
He is coming off a victory in the men’s PTS2 at the Para Triathlon World Championships in Rotterdam, Netherlands, in September. But winning back-to-back world titles was unexpected, especially less than three months after sustaining serious injuries in a cycling crash in June.
“Going into the Worlds, I was very nervous. I had to take six weeks off training because of the crash,” Lewis said. “I was doing 45kph downhill when a dog ran across the road and took me out. I badly damaged my shoulder, tore my ACL [anterior cruciate ligament] and had to have 15 stitches in my hip and seven in my knee.”
Despite the setback, Lewis retained his PTS2 world title in Rotterdam, finishing more than a minute ahead of the USA’s silver medallist Mark Barr.
“But it all seemed to slot together,” Lewis added. “I was battling on the bike with Mark Barr and Stephane Bahier and really had to make sure I got into transition at the same time or before them to be able to deliver on the run.”
After Rotterdam, Lewis did not take any time off and but is not stressed about Sunday’s race.
“This is a non-pressurised race for me; I’m not really looking for any super results,” Lewis said. “I’m going to try a non-wetsuit swim for the first time, a new bike set-up and a different blade so I’m really using it as a trial.”
Lewis is looking forward to facing new competition in the PTS2 category in Sarasota, with the USA trio of Adam Popp, Allan Armstrong and Maikol Monsalve joining Lewis on the start line. His biggest rival in Barr will not be in Sarasota.
A win on Sunday would top off a strong season for Lewis. His accomplishments in the sport are particularly impressive, considering he did not even know the order of the swim, bike and run legs before taking up the sport four years ago.
“My career so far has been short, but a very steep learning curve,” Lewis said. “I laughed when I was first approached to try triathlon as I didn’t even know what order it happened in. People around me always told me that I had the talent to go far, but I never believed it myself.”
US women set to dominate
US Para triathlete Melissa Stockwell will also compete in an international event for the first time since winning bronze in Rio in the women’s PTS2 category.
In the women’s PTWC event, US 16-year-old Ahalya Lettenberger will look to continue her impressive start to her Para triathlon career after finishing fourth at the World Championships. Her compatriot, Zach Young will also be aiming for victory on home soil in the men’s race.
In the women’s PTVI event, the USA’s Amy Dixon will be hoping to secure her second World Cup win of the season after winning in Magog, Canada, in July.
More information on the 2017 Sarasota ITU Para Triathlon World Cup can be found on USA Triathlon’s website.