Sports week: 10 things to know about para triathlon


The Tokyo 2020 Games will only be the second outing of the para triathlon at the Paralympic Games. Here are 10 things you might not know about sports:

1. Para triathlon made its debut at sea off Copacabana beach at the Rio 2016 Paralympic Games. There were medal events (three men, three women), with the United States leading the medal table with two gold medals, one silver and one bronze. Grace Norman and Allysa Seely won gold medals for the United States.

© Getty

2. Para triathlon has nine sport classes:

PTWC 1-2: Athletes with lower limb limitations (PTWC2) and upper limbs (PTWC1), using a handcycle for the cycling segment and a racing chair for the racing segment.

PT 2-5: Athletes with limitations in the lower and / or upper limbs (a lower class number means there are more limitations) who participate in (regular) cycling and running. Assistive devices such as prosthetic legs and / or bicycle modifications are regulated by the International Federation.

PTVI 1-3: Athletes with a visual impairment, subdivided into three classes according to the severity of the vision loss (visual acuity and / or visual field).

Athletes in the PTWC and PTVI classes compete in combined events, with an interval start system per sport class.

© World Triathlon / Delly Carr

3. The very first Paralympic Paratriathlon champion was Germany’s Martin Schulz in the men’s PT4.

4. The events take place over the “sprint” distance, half the Olympic distance: 750 m swimming, 20 km cycling and 5 km running. Men and women compete separately.

5. Para-athletes can be supported out of the water at the end of the first segment and also assisted in retrieving their equipment in a pre-transition area. Support is also provided in the form of help lifting athletes in and out of racing chairs or bikes, changing wetsuits and helping to park bikes after the racing phase.

© World Triathlon / Delly Carr

6. In the cycling segment, the bikes used depend on the class of the athlete. PTWC athletes use a recumbent hand bike, while PTVI athletes use a tandem bike with the rider seated in front and the athlete behind. PTS class athletes use a road bike which can be modified as needed, including changing the shape of the pedals so that they can be more easily pedaled using a prosthetic leg, changing the brake levers and speed so that they can be operated with one hand, or by adjusting the position of the handlebars.

7. In the running element, PTWC athletes use a competitive wheelchair, while PTS athletes use assistive devices such as a prosthetic leg. PTVI athletes are accompanied by a guide.

8. Transition phases are also referred to as the “fourth element” in sport and are a key aspect of competition, as the transition can have a significant impact on an athlete’s total time.


9. Handlers work specifically with PTWC athletes to assist them in transition areas, such as helping athletes get in and out of their competition equipment. They too train regularly to work as a team and build trusting relationships to help athletes succeed.

ten. Guides for PTV athletes are not allowed to lead their athlete over 0.5m in swimming.


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