“Making a mistake cost me a gold medal, but as an athlete you have to go through those learning curves and it has taught me many lessons when you just need to pick yourself up and keep going.”
Great Britain’s Lauren Steadman is hoping to continue her winning return to competition when she competes at the Iseo-Franciacorta ITU (International Triathlon Union) Para Triathlon World Cup on Saturday (8 July).
The 24-year-old took seven months off from the sport after winning a silver medal at last year’s Paralympic Games to complete her university dissertation.
Steadman made a winning return to competition after becoming European champion for the fifth time in Kitzbuhel, Austria, last month, and the gold medal had extra meaning following two family bereavements.
“Losing both of my Grandads was tough on my whole family so to win gold meant a lot and it feels like a good starting point after getting back into training and racing properly,” Steadman said. “Hopefully, I will be back to full fitness soon and ready to race at the World Championships in September.”
France’s Gwladys Lemoussu finished second behind Steadman in Kitzbuhel and the French Para triathlete is likely to be Steadman’s closest challenger in the women’s PTS5 event in Iseo.
“Iseo is a chance to try out racing in high humidity, which will be similar to Tokyo [2020 Paralympic Games],” Steadman said. “It will also act as a good training race as I continue to push my body and improve on my performance as the season goes on.”
If Steadman was to compete in Tokyo, it would be her fourth Paralympic Games. She competed in swimming at Beijing 2008 and London 2012, before winning a silver medal in Para triathlon in Rio, where the sport made its Paralympic debut.
“As far as competition goes, Rio was the greatest highlight of my career, but also the hardest to deal with,” Steadman said. “Making a mistake cost me a gold medal, but as an athlete you have to go through those learning curves and it has taught me many lessons when you just need to pick yourself up and keep going.”
Another British Para triathlete who made a medal winning return at the European Championships was Karen Darke. Darke finished third in Kitzbuhel in her first international triathlon since 2014 and she will be hoping to build on her performance in Iseo this weekend in the women’s PTWC event.
In the men’s race, Italy will be hoping for home success with European silver medallist Giovanni Achenz looking to continue his good form ahead of the Italian national championships on Sunday.
France’s Stephane Bahier starts as the favourite in the men’s PTS2 race, while in the women’s race Italy’s Veronica Yoko Plebani will be hoping to repeat her Besancon World Cup victory on home soil.
Great Britain’s Ryan Taylor and Croatia’s Antun Bosnjakovic will go head-to-head in the men’s PTS3 event. The women’s race will see two European medallists renew their rivalry. European champion Anna Plotnikova finished two minutes ahead of bronze medallist Elise Marc in Kitzbuhel and the pair will meet again in Iseo.
France’s Alexis Hanquinquant will be looking to continue his impressive start to his Para triathlon career in the PTS4 event. Hanquinquant only started competing in the sport last year and he will be hoping to add to his three victories in 2017 this weekend.
In the men’s PTS5 race, Spain’s Jairo Ruiz Lopez will head to Italy hoping to win back-to-back World Cup events after securing victory on home course in Altafulla last weekend.
Ruiz’s compatriot Jose Luis Garcia Serrano finished second in the men’s PTVI race and he will be hoping to go one place better this weekend, while Great Britain’s Alison Patrick starts as the favourite in the women’s event.
More information on the World Cup in Iseo-Franciacorta can be found on the ITU website.