Quotes from the 2016 U.S. Women’s Paralympic Triathlon Team after competing in the sport’s debut on Sunday. Read the race recap here.
Allysa Seely (Glendale, Ariz.), PT2 Paralympic champion
On earning gold
"It’s been an amazing season. I knew I needed to have a really strong swim out there, to get as close to the front as I could, put as much time in between me and some of my competitors. Coming off the bike, I had a lot of work to do. I put my head down and I went for it. I’m a runner at heart and that’s my soul, so I really just gave it everything I had and I’m really excited with how everything turned out."
On the race and competition
"It was very tough. It was very close from the start to the end. My teammates and my competitors pushed me really hard."
On what's next after Rio
"I’m looking forward to continuing this journey, and I hope to be able to take it to 2020. I’m excited to keep training, to keep racing and see how far I can go. I would love to defend my medal in Tokyo."
On the USA podium sweep
"There’s nothing better than standing on the podium with two of my teammates. To be able to see our three flags in the air, to hear our national anthem being played, it’s going to be an amazing moment. I can’t wait."
On competing in track at the Paralympic Games
"I plan to celebrate by going and recovering. I’ll be running the 200m prelims tomorrow morning, so I’ve got a lot of recovery to do. I’m going to shift my mindset and start focusing on my race tomorrow. There’s always challenges to everything you do, and so I’ve been very focused on this race up until today. As soon as I get a break, get a minute to step out and take a breath, I’m going to start cooling down, stretching out and recovering to make sure I’m at my best for tomorrow."
Hailey Danisewicz (Chicago, Ill.), PT2 silver medalist
On earning silver
"I don’t know where to start. It feels amazing. This day we’ve been waiting for, for so long. It’s the culmination of the best for years of my life, and I think I had one of the best races of my life. I’m so stoked to be here."
On what she'll be thinking about on the podium
"Honestly, I think just the journey that it took to get here. The three of us have been together for the last four years, we’ve gone through so much together — the highs, the lows, ups and downs, victories, setbacks. We’ve always been there for each other. For me, it’s really that journey that has been most rewarding. This is just the cherry on top."
On the mental aspect
"I’m definitely always paying attention to where people are on the course, but my real key is to stay within my own race. To constantly be checking in with myself and saying, what am I doing in this moment to do what I need to do to get to that finish line the fastest. I’m certainly aware of other people but I really just channel my energy inward and stay present in the moment."
On if anything was said when Allysa passed her
"It was kind of unspoken. There was definitely some unspoken support going on, but no, that was a silent moment. I think we both just had our heads down, grinding it out. Words weren’t really possible."
On the course
"The water was amazing. This is one of my favorite courses I’ve ever done, it definitely plays to my strengths. It was hot, the heat definitely got to all of us on the run. But you know, we are in Rio, and this is the weather that I train for. It was definitely better than I expected."
On paratriathlon’s Paralympic debut
"It's just such an honor. Paratriathlon making it to the Paralympics, it’s been such a long process in the making and so many athletes came before us really paved the way. We made history today. That’s something no one will ever be able to take away from us. I can’t think of a better group of people to be representing not only America, but the sport of paratriathlon and I’m just really honored to be one of them."
On if she will continue another four years
"That’s the plan. At this point I’m going to take a nice little break, do some running, trail running, some longer distance stuff. But this is my favorite thing in the world. There’s nothing else in the world that I would rather be doing than this sport, and so I guess the short answer is yes."
Melissa Stockwell (Chicago, Ill.), PT2 bronze medalist
On earning bronze
"I am on top of the world. My bronze medal right there felt like a gold medal. A journey that has gone the last couple years — having my son, battling a few injuries, and to be able to be on the podium with two of my greatest friends, two USA teammates, two training partners. … I mean, this is one of the greatest moments of my life. I am just so excited. I am thrilled. I am absolutely thrilled with the outcome."
On racing on the anniversary of Sept. 11
"The 15th anniversary of September 11, every year it’s a meaningful day for me. I mean, I lost my leg over in Iraq. To be here representing the USA, with the USA uniform on, on the world’s biggest athletic stage — when it got really tough out there, I thought of those who made the ultimate sacrifice and didn’t make it back and they pushed me to the finish, wanting to give my thanks to them."
On where she was on Sept. 11
"I was in college, I watched the news unfold. I was in my ROTC uniform, and I knew my life was forever changed when those towers fell, and was willing to do whatever I had to do to preserve the freedom that we have here."
On earning the bipartite invitation
"I knew it was going to be a tough road. Two of my toughest competitors were my teammates. I knew that I was going to have to give it all, and all of us gave everything we had. Bipartite spot or not, we were the top three coming in and we remained the top three."
Grace Norman (Jamestown, Ohio), PT4 Paralympic champion
On earning Team USA's first medal in paratriathlon
"It feels amazing. It’s been a long journey, a lot of training, a lot of everything. So to come across that line in first for the U.S. to make first in the history of paratriathlon is just an incredible feeling."
On representing the USA
"I’m so honored. The U.S. is my country, I’m so honored to wear the colors. I gave it my all today and I’m very proud that it was for the U.S."
On her performance and racing Great Britain's Lauren Steadman
"I knew I was there [on the swim]. I saw [Lauren Steadman] take a bit of a wrong turn on the swim so I knew I was going to come out ahead at that point. It was very exciting to be that close. She came out of transition just a little bit ahead of me, and then I passed her in transition, and it was the best race to have that kind of camaraderie and competition with Lauren Steadman."
"I was pretty focused. I knew that I had a faster run than her, so I was very comfortable where I was. Just keep her in sight on the bike and knew that I had to kick it in on the run. It was a very comfortable race and then a bit uncomfortable on the run."
"Right before the finish of the first lap I caught her, and I ran with her for a little while. I’ve always wanted to run with her, so it was very cool to run side-by-side for a little bit and then take off. It was by far the best race I’ve had."
On improvements she's made
"Definitely my swim has improved drastically. Last year here at the test event, [Steadman] beat me out of the water by around a minute, and so I’ve been working extremely hard on my swim. So to move up and see improvements like that here and Rotterdam have just been a reward. I’m seeing my hard work pay off. I’ve improved in the bike and the run as well, but definitely the swim has been my big improvement."
Patricia Collins (Alexandria, Va.), PT4
On becoming a Paralympian
"Indescribable. Truly, it feels great. It was a beautiful course, the fans were awesome, and I can’t believe it’s over already. It’s an honor, really. To be the first class of paratriathletes in Rio, and they rolled out the red carpet for us. As an Army veteran, to do it on September 11 is huge to me, so I am kind of without words."
On the atmosphere and competition
"It was electric. It was hot, but it was absolutely electric. The girls were awesome and it was a lot of fun."
On what’s up next for her
"A churro. No, I’m going to Texas to do the 100 mountain bike with President Bush in a couple weeks. It’s a pretty great year."
On her support
"Thank you, USA Triathlon. Thank you, America. It’s a great gift."
Elizabeth Baker (Signal Mountain, Tenn.), PT5
On her battle to the finish
"I had her. I had her and my legs just wouldn’t work. My legs wouldn’t go any further, and it was just the most frustrating thing in the entire world. I’m super proud, because no one had any idea who we were to begin with. We were sort of the no-name team, so no one expected us to be anywhere. But to get so close and to not be able to close it was just very, very frustrating. But it makes me want to come back. I have one year of training under my belt, so maybe a few more years and I’ll have learned a little."
On competing in triathlon's Paralympic Games debut
"This is amazing. A year ago I wasn’t even involved. I’m very proud and I’m very thankful for the opportunity."
On working with her guide, Jillian Petersen
"Jillian is excellent for me. She pushes me every step. Something about the way we work together, it’s a well-oiled machine. I think that we complement each other."
Patricia Walsh (Austin, Texas), PT5
On her performance
"It was a good race all in all. Great competition, and we had a really good bike and a really good run. It was one of my better swims but it was a challenging swim for sure."
On the experience
"No matter what, it’s always been worth it. Six years of training and really having an eye on the prize as long as I’ve ever done, the whole experience was absolutely worth it. This is probably the end of my career, so it’s good to end on a high note."
Jessica Jones Meyers (guide for Patricia Walsh)
On the competition
"It’s just a testament to how much more competition there is now. We were red-lining it the whole way, we had a good race. Six other girls had better races. We’re walking away proud and knowing that we gave our best effort."
Find more coverage on triathlon in the Rio de Janeiro 2016 Games at usatriathlon.org/rio2016.