Today was redemption day for Australia’s remarkable paratriathlete Emily Tapp who was crowned dual world champion on the Gold Coast today after successful bilateral half-tunnel release surgery on her wrists.
Tapp successfully defended her world title from Rotterdam last year with an emphatic victory over Japan’s Wakako Tsuchida and fellow Aussie Lauren Parker, who had her own triumphant return from further spinal surgery to take the bronze.
They were joined on the podium by two-time ITU World Champion Sally Pilbeam who powered home to add silver to her World Championship collection in the PTS4 with bronze also to dual world champion and Paralympic champion Katie Kelly.
In other results: Kerryn Harvey (fourth, PTS4), Jonathan Goerlach (fifth PTVI), Justin Godfrey (fifth PTS3), Bill Chaffey (sixth PTWC), Clint Pickin (sixth PTS4), Gerrard Gosens (10th PTVI) and Josh Kassulke (11th PTS5)
But it was 27-year-old ACT-based Queenslander Tapp, who became a paraplegic after a camp drafting accident in 2011 and who underwent surgeries 12 months ago, spending the next three months in rehab, who was a deserved gold medallist.
The Commonwealth Games silver medallist in the recently added Paralympic Wheelchair category for Tokyo 2020, crossed the finish line to win gold, pain-free and ready to tackle the challenge to finally become a Paralympian.
“I feel like I’m the athlete I wanted to get back to being, post surgery and my coaches believed in me more than I could when I couldn’t,” said Tapp, whose family surprised her and swamped her with congratulations after her win.
“It is better than the first win, this is unbelievable; my season maybe hasn’t been where I’ve wanted to be, or I haven’t been the athlete I’ve wanted to be so I felt like this race was redemption.
“This is the race I knew I wanted to hit. I didn’t think the road to recovery would be this turbulent.
“It has made me a better athlete and where I am now and has really helped me focus and I’m looking forward to 2020.
And her post-race reward.
“The family can come and enjoy pancakes with me which is all I’ve been wanting for this past week…there will be nothing left. (when I am done).”
Parker, third in the Commonwealth Games in the Wheelchair division two-and-a-half months after further spinal surgery and with limited feeling in her right admitted she was worried about competing after her first week post surgery.
“But I was determined and happy to be here even though that was so tough, so much tougher than the Commonwealth Games,” said the 24-year-old from Newcastle.
“I haven’t had the best preparation after surgery five weeks ago and my right arm is that much weaker than my left, so I’m stoked to come away with another bronze.
“The bike is normally my strongest leg and we can get away from the other girls but that didn’t happen today…I went as hard as I could, and I can’t ask for anything more.
“I’m looking forward to making a full recovery over the next few months, so I can build up my strength.
“There is always improvement to come and I am definitely looking forward to the World Championships next year.”
Defending and two-time world champion and Paralympic champion Katie Kelly finished with a satisfying bronze in her PTVI (Vision impaired category) with first time guide, Brisbane-based triathlete Holly Grice.
She too had battled an injury in the lead-up, managing a stressed left metatarsal, which she overcame to get to the start line – but Kelly was full of praise for Spain’s Susana Rodriguez and Great Britain’s Alison Patrick who proved too strong on the day.
“I knew those girls were getting stronger; they have been competing all year and that really counts on days like today but big congrats to them both for great races,” said Kelly.
“And congrats to my first up guide Holly she is just a champion…to finish that race is a triumph in itself.
“I have been here twice and haven’t finished it so I’m happy with that on that level.
“We took it really slow with the recovery and preparation with the focus all about 2020.
“This year has been about building up my strength and conditioning; I had a fantastic block with coach Dan Atkins, but after today it just shows you what you what you have to do.”
Sally Pilbeam said she couldn’t have done any more with British girl Hannah Moore taking gold and defending champion Mani Tani from Japan the bronze.
“I had a great swim and I just can’t match it with those girls with two arms, but that’s ok. I pulled back some time on the bike and the run, and I’m really really happy with how I raced today.”
2018 ITU World Paratriathlon Grand Final Gold Coast – Australian Results:
1st Emily Tapp – ACT (PTWC)
2nd Sally Pilbeam – WA (PTS3)
3rd Lauren Parker – NSW (PTWC)
3rd Katie Kelly (Guide: Holly Grice) – QLD (PTV1)
4th Kerryn Harvey – VIC (PTS4)
5th Jonathan Goerlach (Guide: Sam Douglas) – NSW (PTV1)
5th Justin Godfrey – VIC (PTS3)
6th Bill Chaffey – NSW (PTWC)
6th Clint Pickin – VIC (PTS4)
10th Gerrard Gosens (Guide: Stephen Thompson) – QLD (PTV1)
11th Josh Kassulke – QLD (PTS5)