When it was announced that the USA’s Melissa Stockwell would receive a bipartite slot for Para triathlon at Rio 2016, the women’s PT2 class got interesting.
The US trio of Allysa Seely, Hailey Danisewicz and Stockwell went one-two-three, respectively, at the 2015 International Triathlon Union (ITU) World Championship Grand Final in Chicago, USA, showing what might come in September’s Games.
All coming from different backgrounds – one injured during the war in Iraq, one a cancer survivor and a college student with an undiagnosed illness – and going for the same prize. Heading into Rio, here is a quick look at the US trio that could occupy the podium:
Stockwell had her left leg amputated above the knee after her vehicle was hit by a roadside bomb in Iraq while serving in the US Army in 2004. In the 12 years since, Stockwell has accomplished much. She started an adaptive sporting group called Dare2Tri, became a mother to her son Dallas and has competed in Para sports. She went to Beijing 2008 for swimming, ran the New York Marathon and won two World Championships in Para triathlon. Stockwell will bring the most competition experience into Rio than her younger counterparts.
Diagnosed with bone cancer at the age of 12, Danisewicz beat the cancer but still struggled to regain her physical abilities and decided to have her left leg amputated at 14. While interviewing for an internship during college, her future supervisor convinced her to try triathlon. The rest is history. After playing underdog in the sport for a few years, Danisewicz won her first world title over mentor Stockwell in 2013, bursting into the Para triathlon scene. Danisewicz has continued to be a regular on the podium, finishing runner-up at the Worlds in 2014 and 2015, and third in 2016. She is no longer an underdog in Rio.
A collegiate athlete, Seely began training to compete in triathlons in 2008. But she became very ill a few weeks after her first triathlon and it took more than a year until she was diagnosed with Chiari II Malformation and Basilar Invagination in 2010 and had her leg amputated below the knee in 2013. Two years after her surgery, Seely won her first World Championships in Chicago, USA. Jumping on the radar in 2015, Seely surged to No. 1 and is the new face to be reckoned with in her class.
Editor’s note: Each sport on the Rio 2016 Paralympic programme will have a dedicated week of featured content published on paralympic.org. Every week a new sport will be featured and the series will run until September’s Games, helping the public understand more about the 22 sports being contested in Rio.
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