World Champion Alistair Brownlee of Great Britain and Olympian Sarah Haskins of the United States have joined a star-studded squad backing the International Triathlon Union’s bid to have Paratriathlon added to the Rio 2016 Paralympic Games programme. The additional reinforcement is a significant boost for the ITU’s “Paratriathlon for Paralympics” campaign ahead of Saturday’s IPC decision.
“British paratriathletes had a fantastic year with a huge event in London and then taking home six World Championship medals at the largest-ever Paratriathlon,” said Brownlee. “I hope the sport will be added to Rio 2016, where triathletes and paratriathletes can take home another clutch of medals.”
In London in July, 42 athletes competed in Paratriathlon along with elite and mass-participation competitions at the Dextro Energy Triathlon ITU World Championship Series, garnering tremendous public interest. BBC Sport aired a featured programme, “European champion Iain Dawson’s guide to Paratriathlon,” around the event. The momentum propelled Team GB to a successful performance at the ITU Paratriathlon World Championships in Budapest in September.
“Parariathlon is an exciting and dynamic sport, which can be practiced by anybody regardless of disabilities and age,” said Haskins. “I believe the sport has the power to inspire youth with disabilities and I’m hoping to see these young athletes compete in the future editions of the Paralympic Games.”
Team USA sent the largest contingent of paratriathletes to the world championships in Budapest, which featured 88 athletes from 17 countries. The sport is rapidly growing as the number of paratriathletes has doubled since 2009 with at least 37 nations actively participating.
Reigning ITU Triathlon World Champions Emma Moffatt and Javier Gomez, along with Ironman World Champions Chrissie Wellington, Craig Alexander, Mirinda Carfae and Chris McCormack, declared their support for the Paralympic bid last month. The ITU’s Facebook campaign has already enjoyed more than 3,500 passionate fans, including paratriathletes, triathletes, national federations and sports fans. The support keeps growing as the International Paralympic Committee gears for its verdict on Saturday.