Spectacular Copacabana beach was a fitting
venue for the sport of Para Triathlon to make its Paralympic debut. 60 athletes from
18 nations competing in six medal events. Three medals in the men’s competition were
decided on a warm Rio morning. The course comprised a 750 meter sea swim a 20.92
kilometer Cycle and a 5 kilometer run. 11 men were in the water for the PT4 Class
for athletes with mobility impairments. 3 time world champion Martin Schulz of
Germany and Canadian Stephane Daniel were among the favourites for the gold medal as
the hit the water. But it was Great Britains George Peasgood
who went out hard and steadily opened up a sizeable lead over the field by the time he
reached the beach, the 20 year old Sports Science Student has no range of movement in
his left ankle. He clocked 9 minutes 41 seconds for the swim and headed for T1 with
a 30 second advantage over Mexican Jose Abraham Estrada Sierra.
Frenchman Maxime Maurel 37 seconds back in third was a picture of calmness as he prepared
for the bike after a good swim. Peasgood was onto the tri bars as he lead
then race into the four laps bike leg. 21 year old Estarda Sierra and Maurel were
working hard to close the gap. David Hill a carpenter from Bath in Great Britain was
competing in his 4th Games having swum in Athens, Beijing and London.
World Champion Schulz was the man to watch, 4th out of the swim and 52 seconds down,he
powered through the course posting the three of the fastest splits and the 26
year old who was born without the lower part of his left arm came into T2 in the lead by
15 seconds over Peasgood who had a ten second
lead over a surging Jairo Ruiz Lopez of Spain, the athletes have to dismount their
bikes before entering the Transition zone. Schulz who also took part in Londons Paralympics
as swimmer set about defendning his lead on the two lap 5 kilometer run.
The main threat to his gold medal hopes was 19 year old Canadian star Stefan Daniel. The
2015 World Champion was 4th after the Bike leg but ripping through the run and picking
off rivals as he went. 2016 World Championship Bronze medalist Ruiz
Lopez who was born without part of his left arm was just ahead in second.
Martin Schulz could afford a glance back as he closed in on the finish. A sensational
performance by the German to write his name into the Paralympic record boos as the first
Para Triathlon Gold Medalist. Stefan Daniel posted the fastest run time
of the race to claim silver just 28 seconds back and just 9 seconds ahead of a delighted
Jairo Ruiz Lopez in third. The PT2 Race had 10 athletes whose mobility
impairments were lower than those in PT4. The sea temperature was 22 degrees
and a slight East South Easterly raised a small swell off the beach.
Mark Barr from the United States and Australian Brant Garvey were soon out in front.
and it was Barr who reached the swim exit handlers first, the professional Nurse who
had his right leg amputated above the knee at
the age of 14 had 41 seconds in hand over Garvey.
The man from Perth is a former professional wheelchair basketball player.
World Champion Andrew Lewis of Great Britain was third out of the swim 53 second behind
Barr. Italys Michele Ferrarin, in fourth,a former
double world champion has spinal muscular atrophy that affect the movement of his left
arm, and Moroccan Mohamed Lahna was in fifth place at T1, just ahead of Frances Stephane
Bahier. Ferrarin was super strong on the bike. As
was Bahier, showing good skills on the hairpin corner. Barr had lost his lead and was
under pressure from Lewis. 45 year old Ferrarin was first into T2 with
a lead of 53 seconds as he headed out on the the 5 k run.
Bahier was leaking time on the run. And Andrew Lewis was in a battle Royal with
Mohamed Lahna. Ultimately it was Lewis who went away to add
the Paralympic title to his world title. The race for second was thrilling with Ferrarin
just holding off Lahna to take the silver medal 41 second behind Lewis and just five
ahead of Lahna. PT1
The mens PT1, for athletes with more extreme mobility impairments was the last for the
medal races to take to the waters of Copacabana Beach. The swell had risen and
the first of the athletes to reach the beach was world champion Jetze Plat.
The athletes were assisted up the beach and into their wheel chairs before making their
way to their hand cycles for the cycle leg…Plat had a 55 second lead but behind
him just 35 seconds covered the next four competitors.
Dutchman Plat, who had his right leg amputated was in dominant form.
Pre race favourite Austrlian Bill Chaffey who had only lost 2 races in seven years was
second… Geert Schipper was holding onto his third
place after the swim. Plat who was 4th in the hand cycling road
race in 2012 was increasing his lead at every turn, and came into the T2 with 2 minutes
and 35 seconds in hand over his rivals. Schipper and Italian Giovanni Achenza lost
time to a stop go penalty in T2. Plat was in complete command as he powered
towards the finish, The PT1 athletes completing the run leg on racing wheelchairs.
Schipper put his head down and turned up the heat to try and catch Achenza in the race
for silver…..and his big effort paid off as he
passed the Italian. Plat though was an unstoppable force in the
PT1 race he crossed the line in 59 minutes and 31 seconds…and it was double delight
for the Dutch as Schipper took silver while an ecstatic Achenza collected the bronze medal.
the Dutch fans had plenty to celebrate at Copacabana beach thank to the brilliance of
Jetze Plat and Geert Schippe