Grace Norman crosses the finish line to win the silver medal during the women's PTS5 triathlon at the Paralympic Games Tokyo 2020 on Aug. 29, 2021 in Tokyo.
Hailey Danz and Grace Norman scored world titles while four other Americans celebrated Thanksgiving by claiming medals at the 2022 World Triathlon Para World Championships in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates.
The Para competition kicked off a weekend of championship racing that will conclude on Saturday. The Americans, all of whom have previously won world titles, began in fine style, earning two gold medals, three silver medals and a bronze medal across five Para classifications.
Danz (PTS2 women) and Norman (PTS5 women) won world titles while Kendall Gretsch (PTWC women), Melissa Stockwell (PTS2 women) and Kelly Elmlinger (PTS4 women) were runners-up in their classes. Chris Hammer finished in third place in the PTS5 men’s race.
A total of 19 American paratriathletes competed on the Yas Bay Waterfront sprint-distance course, which featured a 750-meter swim, 20-kilometer bike and 5K run.
Danz, a 2020 Olympic silver medalist, successfully defended her 2021 world title in the PTS2 women’s race. She crossed the finish line in 1 hour, 19 minutes, 8 seconds. Stockwell, a three-time Paralympian, was the runner-up in 1:20:24.
“It was a good day,” Danz told triathlon.org. “I worked well with Melissa Stockwell, and we were able to break away and come out (of the water) first, but I knew my bike was my strength and I was able to get out of transition first and focus on making up the most ground possible.
“I went really hard on the bike, and I’m recovering from a crash I had about six weeks ago, so I definitely played it safe on some of the corners. By the run, I knew where I was, so played a bit of a self-preservation game.”
In the PTS5 women’s race, two-time Paralympic medalist Norman broke the tape in 1:05:59. It was her third world title and first since 2017. She won the silver medal a year ago.
“It was a blast out there, super hot but so fun,” Norman told triathlon.org. “Racing against Claire (Cashmore of Great Britain, who placed second) is always a battle and unpredictable, and things are getting more and more competitive, which is always fun.”
Gretsch, who won a 2020 Paralympic gold medal and is also a multi-time Paralympic medalist as a Nordic skier, was seeking her first world championship since 2016. She settled for a silver medal in the PTWC women’s classification, finishing in 1:09:08, just 25 seconds behind Lauren Parker of Australia. At the Paralympic Games Tokyo 2020, Gretsch famously outdueled Parker down the stretch in a thrilling finish.
Chasing her second consecutive world title, Elmlinger placed second in the PTS4 women’s race in 1:14:32. The PTS4 classification will be constested at the Paralympics for the first time in 2024.
Another defending world champion, Hammer placed third in the PTS5 men’s competition with a time of 1:00:50. It was his fifth world championships medal.
The world championships continue Friday with the women’s elite race.