Australia shines at ITU Paratriathlon World Championships

Ten paratriathletes were crowned World Champions on the second day of competition at the ITU World Triathlon Grand Final Chicago. Australia awed the crowds with an impressive three wins, with Bill Chaffey scoring his fifth PT1 World Championship title, while Sally Pilbeam scored her second consecuti

Australia shines at ITU Paratriathlon World Championships
Katie Kelly and guide Michellie Jones – Photo Credit: Delly Carr / ITU Media

Ten paratriathletes were crowned World Champions on the second day of competition at the ITU World Triathlon Grand Final Chicago. Australia awed the crowds with an impressive three wins, with Bill Chaffey scoring his fifth PT1 World Championship title, while Sally Pilbeam scored her second consecutive PT3 world title and Katie Kelly made her debut on top of the women’s PT5 podium with guide Olympic silver medallist Michelle Jones. USA also prevailed on home soil with a sweep of the podium in the women’s PT2 sport class.

In the women’s field, Australian  Katie Kelly  along with guide  Michellie Jones, claimed their first World Championship title after a come-from-behind victory. The swim and bike legs saw a close battle between Great Britain’s  Alison Patrick  and  Melissa Reid, who interchangeably took the lead. It was after the second transition when Kelly gained on the Brits and was able to brush by them to take the front position. Ultimately the Aussie was able to seize the win. Patrick followed 30 seconds later to take the silver medal.  Susana Rodriguez  (ESP) also stunned by pulling through on the last lap of the run to overtake Reid and earn the bronze medal.

“Just being a part of it all, there’s an amazing bond between the athletes in paratri” Kelley said. “It’s a real honour just being a part of the World Champs, apart from the gold.”

“Katie wasn’t 100%, we weren’t 100% on our fitness, but we wanted to get enough points to get to Rio,” Jones said. “You couldn’t ask for a better athletes (in Katie).

Aaron Scheidies  (USA) walked away with the gold medal in the men’s PT5 for the second consecutive time after maintaining the lead for the entirety of the race. The victory on home soil gave him a back-to-back World Champion title. The silver medal went to  Vasyl Zakreyskyi  (UKR) and finishing in third was  Lukasz Wietecki(POL).

A the first sport class to be contested on Friday,  Stefan Daniel  (CAN) was the first athlete to take down the finish tape, taking home his first world title with it in men’s PT4. Daniel had a phenomenal comeback victory after he trailed behind Germany’s  Martin Schulz  for the first half of the race. Schulz led out of the swim and first two laps on the bike, but lost momentum. As athletes rounded into the second transition area, Daniel, Schulz and  Yannick Bourseaux  (FRA) blasted out onto the run neck and neck. It was then when Daniel proved worthy of a World Championship when he was able to make a move to get away from his rivals and create enough distance between himself to easily stroll into the finish line and claim the gold medal. Schulz finished with the silver medal, while Bourseaux took home the bronze.

With the win, Daniel also qualified himself a spot on Team Canada for the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Paralympic Games.

“The swim was a battle, I had to give everything on the bike,” Daniel said. “I’m so happy right now, to win that, it’s been my goal since I was a kid. I didn’t have any pressure on myself this race. I had a good year and I wanted to give it everything I could. The goal was to win today, now I have my Rio qualification out of the way and now I can focus on next year.”

In the women’s race,  Lauren Steadman  (GBR) completely crushed the field by holding onto a lead that she earned early. As she exited the waters she was up by over a minute and never lost any time throughout the whole race. She earned the gold medal and a consecutive World Championship title without any threat. Second place went to  Grace Norman  (USA) who impressively overtook  Kate Doughty  (AUS) in the run to get the silver medal, while Doughty ran over for bronze.

“It’s a fantastic feeling, I’m really pleased,” Steadman said. “The girls are fiercely competitive and I knew I had to do something really well to win. I didn’t have the best swim so I tried to pull up on the bike, which I did. And then on the run I just tried to have the best run of my life.”

Oliver Dreier  (AUT) took home the World Champ title in the men’s PT3 race. Dreier trailed in the first two disciplines of the race, but was able to take the lead after a noteworthy performance on the run. His gold medal signaled a comeback after coming in second place in the 2014 World Championships. Silver was awarded to the lead swimmer,  Alejandro Sanchez Palomero  (ESP), while the bronze went to Australian  Justin Godfrey.

In the women’s race, Australia claimed yet another World Championship after  Sally Pilbeam  finished strong to walk away with the gold medal. Joining her on the podium was compatriot  Kerryn Harvey  and  Saskia Van Den Ouden  (NED).

USA swept the podium yet again in the women’s sport class.  Allysa Seely  grabbed her first World Championship title after outrunning compatriots  Melissa Stockwell  and  Hailey Danisewicz. While the race was first controlled by Finland’s  Liisa Lilja, who came out of the swim in the front and then held onto the lead for the first couple of laps on the bike. Stockwell then pushed through to overtake Lilja and stake claims on getting to the podium in her hometown city. But down to the last wire, it was Seely who came out on top. Danisewicz took second place and was followed by Stockwell for the bronze. The trio also shared the podium at the Rio Test Event.

“The girls on my team are the strongest in the country and in the world, so I was really just here to show that I’m a competitor, too and I want to be in Rio,” Seeley said. “So I’m ecstatic with this finish and it couldn’t have gone better. I was hoping just for a podium so to stand on the top, I’m really proud.”

In the men’s race, Italian  Michele Ferrarin  was deemed victorious after trailing in the water.  Mark Barr  (USA) dominated in the swim and headed into the first transition to start out on the bike. Ferrarin was quick to get caught up however and took control. He maintained the lead up until the finish line where he grabbed his World Champion title and top of the podium. The silver medal went to  Stephane Bahier  (FRA) and the bronze was awarded to  Ryan Taylor  (GBR).

Bill Chaffey  completed a drive for five world championship titles when he cruised over the finish line with an estatic fist pump in the men’s PT1 sport class. Despite exiting the water at a deficit of 1:20 to  Jetze Platt, an unlucky flat tire for the Dutchman meant Chaffey had an opportunity to pull himself back into contention for the win. By the end of the four-lap course, Chaffey trailed Platt by just three seconds.

With his strongest discipline saved for last, Chaffey etched out a two-minute lead after the first of three laps, all but wrapping up the win. While  Krige Schabort  (USA) was attempting to reel the Aussie in, he ran out of room, as Chaffey wheeled over the finish line with a 1:17 advantage. Schabort, who won the men’s PT1 World Championship race last year, took silver while Plat rounded out the podium with bronze.

“It’s unbelievable,” said Bill Chaffey. “I really never expected it today. I expected really tough competition and I got that. I was a long way behind coming out of the water. I got some luck. Jetze (Plat) got a flat tire. I didn’t want to win because someone else got a flat so I went as hard as I could and I’m really happy with how I went.”

Kendall Gretsch  added a gold to the medal count for host country USA in the women’s race. Gretsch held onto a consistent lead throughout all three legs, dominating in the swim, bike and run.  Emily Tapp  (AUS) picked up the silver medal and  Lizzie Tench  (GBR) made it to the final spot on the podium with bronze.