Saturday morning saw the 2018 ITU Elite Paratriathlon World Champions crowned in Australia’s Gold Coast, with six categories competing in and around beautiful Mitchell Park. First into the water were the 22 visually impaired PTVI athletes in three waves, followed by the PTWC wheelchair athletes and then PTS5, 4, 3 and 2.
The day began with Britain’s Dave Ellis and Susana Rodriguez of Spain crowned World Champions in the PTVI race. Ellis had led through the swim but was caught by Australia’s Aaron Scheidies over a technical bike course during which Spain’s Hector Catala also gained ground, but by the time Ellis had found his way out of transition and kicked through an impressive first of the five kilometres on foot, his title of World Champion looked assured, Scheidies taking the silver and Catala the bronze.
“What an amazing feeling,” said Ellis afterwards. “It was a tough race and i wasn’t sure it would happen but I got it on the run. We made the best of the race and stuck to our game plan. The guys went out harder than us but we built through it.”
In the women’s race, Rodriguez and GB’s Alison Patrick emerged from the water together but it was a swift transition from the Spaniard that gave her the advantage and a precious lead that she was able to stretch out and build upon across the 5km run to ensure her second World Championship title. Australia’s Katie Kelly came home for the bronze.
“I’m very, very happy, I can’t believe our performance today. Our last title was in 2012 but since then paratriathlon has grown a lot and the competition increased. It is our first year together (with guide Paula Godino) training and it’s difficult to manage our schedules as she has a young baby so I’m very pleased to win this. We have worked hard and it is teamwork in this category so everything we have done this summer has worked.”
In the PTWC wheelchair races, Dutchman Jetze Plat collected his third World title after a phenomenal race that he dominated from beginning to the end, while Australia’s Emily Tapp delighted the crowd as she took the women’s gold.
Paralympic gold medallist Plat was first out of the waters to then ride solo for the 20km on the handbike. When it finally came to the racing wheelchair, Plat had just over a minute over his teammate Geert Schipper, who also managed to leave the rest of the field behind to find himself back on familiar podium territory. The battle for third was always going to be tight, with British Marine Commando Joe Townsend and Italy’s Giovanni Achenza together for much of the course, as well as Ahmed Andaloussi (FRA) and five-time world champion Bill Chaffey (AUS) close behind, but the Brit delivered the strongest final section to finish third.
“I’m really happy, it’s nice to take the win and a third title – and outside of Holland! This is a great place to race. The swim is always good and not many people are faster than me on the bike even though I had a little crash but the gap was big enough so it all held together.”
In the women’s race, it was Australia’s Emily Tapp who mastered the course to claim the gold medal, thrilled to go one better than her Commonwealth silver here earlier in the year.
“I am absolutely stoked. We had the Commonwealth Games down here earlier in the year, so to have that atmosphere and then bring the World Championships down here with my family surprising me was unreal”, she said after her victory. “I have targeted this for a while so to put it all together makes me so happy. This is the athlete that I would have hoped to have been at the Commonwealth Games but to do it at a World Championship and defend my title was my focus.”
Despite a quicker final section, Japan’s Wakako Tsuchida couldn’t quite make up the ground on Tapp, crossing the line second ahead of Australia’s Lauren Parker.