TOKYO — Mark Barr, Hailey Danz and Kelly Elmlinger battled hot and humid conditions to capture gold medals Saturday at the Tokyo ITU Paratriathlon World Cup, held as part of the Tokyo ITU World Olympic Qualification Event at Odaiba Marine Park. Aaron Scheidies and Jamie Brown also hit the podium, collecting silver and bronze medals respectively.
The race format was shifted from a triathlon to a duathlon (run-bike-run) after water quality measurements taken Friday afternoon showed an increase in bacteria levels in Tokyo Bay, forcing a cancellation of the swim leg. Instead, athletes covered a 2.5-kilometer run, 20-kilometer bike and 5-kilometer run, facing temperatures in the mid-90s Fahrenheit.
Scheidies (Seattle Wash.) claimed the first U.S. medal of the day, taking silver in the men’s PTVI division with guide Ben Collins. He crossed the line in 58 minutes, 47 seconds, recording the fastest bike split in 27:43. Great Britain’s Dave Ellis won the men’s PTVI gold in 57:01, and Australia’s Jonathan Goerlach took bronze in 58:53. Kyle Coon (Carbondale, Colo.) and guide Zack Goodman were just off the podium, placing fourth in 59:42.
For Scheidies, strategic heat training over the last few months paid dividends on race day.
“The most important thing is finding out what works for your body. At the U.S. Olympic & Paralympic Training Center (in Colorado Springs), we went into the heat chamber and were able to find out how our bodies react to the heat,” Scheidies said. “The International Triathlon Union has made resources available everywhere on the course for us to stay cool, so I will say they did an amazing job of having enough water, and it was all cold. They allowed the coaches to give us ice and anything we wanted for cooling, and they put on an amazing race.”
Barr (Houston, Texas) took the tape in the men’s PTS2 category with a time of 1:14:47, nearly three minutes ahead of silver medalist Kenshiro Nakayama of Japan.
Danz (Wauwatosa, Wis.) was victorious for the PTS2 women, recording the fastest 5k run of the field en route to a 1:18:11 finish. Great Britain’s Fran Brown was just under a minute behind her in 1:19:04, with Liisa Lilja of Finland rounding out the podium in 1:24:06. Allysa Seely (Glendale, Ariz.) chose to discontinue her race after two laps on the bike.
“It was definitely helpful to see the course. While not all aspects of it are going to be identical to what we do next year (at the Paralympic Games Tokyo 2020), I definitely have an idea of what it’s going to look like,” Danz said. “Getting a real feel for the weather conditions is definitely good. And then just experiencing the whole pre-race procedure, getting a feel for the culture and food and all that, it’s kind of nice.”
Elmlinger (San Antonio, Texas), who is in just her second season as an elite paratriathlete, stormed to the women’s PTS4 victory in 1:10:15. She had nearly a five-minute gap on runner-up Mami Tani of Japan, and over 13 minutes on bronze medalist Sharon Dagg of New Zealand.
The women’s PTS4 category was not selected as a medal event for the Paralympic Games Tokyo 2020, so Elmlinger must try to earn a Paralympic slot in the women’s PTS5 category among athletes with less severe impairments.
“At the end of the day, I always look at things as an opportunity,” Elmlinger said. “I’m going to take whatever opportunity I can. There’s nothing you can do besides your best, and I’ve got a chance. You kind of have to just stop all the complaining and just say, ‘go for it.’”
Brown (Bend, Ore.) collected a bronze medal for the PTS4 men, crossing the line in 59:11. Russia’s Mikhail Kolmakov took the win in 57:06, followed closely by France’s Alexis Hanquinquant for silver in 57:23.
Also racing for the U.S. in Tokyo were Joshua Sweeney (Hillsboro, Ore.) and Howie Sanborn (Denver, Colo.), who took fifth and sixth respectively in the men’s PTWC category; Kendall Gretsch (Colorado Springs, Colo.), who was fifth for PTWC women; Grace Norman (Cedarville, Ohio), fifth for PTS5 women; and Amy Dixon (Encinitas, Calif.) and guide Kirsten Sass, who were fourth for PTVI women.
The Tokyo ITU Paratriathlon World Cup, while never set to be an auto-selection event for the 2020 U.S. Paralympic Triathlon Team, was initially a key piece of overall qualifying criteria for the team. Because the swim leg was canceled, the results no longer have specific Paralympic Games qualifying implications. The race did, however, allow athletes to earn Paralympic ranking points and a reduced amount of points toward their world rankings.
U.S. elite paratriathletes now shift their focus to the ITU Paratriathlon World Championships, which take place Sept. 1 in Lausanne, Switzerland.
Racing action in Tokyo concludes tomorrow with the elite ITU World Mixed Relay event, which showcases the fast-paced race format that will debut as a medal event at the 2020 Olympic Games. Teams from 23 countries are set to compete. Start lists are available at triathlon.org, but the four-person rosters are subject to change until two hours before the race.
Tokyo ITU Paratriathlon World Cup — Complete Results
2.5k run, 20k bike, 5k run (adjusted to duathlon format)
1. Joseph Townsend (GBR), 55:28
2. Ahmed Andaloussi (FRA), 56:34
3. Pier Alberto Buccoliero (ITA), 57:22
5. Joshua Sweeney (Hillsboro, Ore.), 1:04:21
6. Howie Sanborn (Denver, Colo.), 1:05:20
1. Wakako Tsuchida (JPN), 59:44
2. Emily Tapp (AUS), 1:02:19
3. Lauren Parker (AUS), 1:02:26
5. Kendall Gretsch (Colorado Springs, Colo.), 1:06:20
1. Mark Barr (Houston, Texas), 1:14:47
2. Kenshiro Nakayama (JPN), 1:17:39
1. Hailey Danz (Wauwatosa, Wis.), 1:18:11
2. Fran Brown (GBR), 1:19:04
3. Liisa Lilja (FIN), 1:24:06
Allysa Seely (Glendale, Ariz.), DNF
1. Mikhail Kolmakov (RUS), 57:06
2. Alexis Hanquinquant (FRA), 57:23
3. Jamie Brown (Bend, Ore.), 59:11
1. Kelly Elmlinger (San Antonio, Texas), 1:10:15
2. Mami Tani (JPN), 1:15:14
3. Sharon Dagg (NZL), 1:23:42
1. Lauren Steadman (GBR), 1:03:20
2. Claire Cashmore (GBR), 1:05:54
3. Alisa Kolpakchy (UKR), 1:05:54
5. Grace Norman (Cedarville, Ohio), 1:07:50
1. Dave Ellis (GBR), 57:01
2. Aaron Scheidies (Seattle, Wash.), 58:47
3. Jonathan Goerlach (AUS), 58:53
4. Kyle Coon (Carbondale, Colo.), 59:42
1. Jessica Tuomela (CAN), 1:10:08
2. Melissa Reid (GBR), 1:10:48
3. Vita Oleksiuk (UKR), 1:12:37
4. Amy Dixon (Encinitas, Calif.), 1:15:37
About USA Triathlon
USA Triathlon is proud to serve as the National Governing Body for triathlon, as well as duathlon, aquathlon, aquabike, winter triathlon, off-road triathlon and paratriathlon in the United States. Founded in 1982, USA Triathlon sanctions more than 4,300 events and connects with more than 400,000 members each year, making it the largest multisport organization in the world. In addition to its work at the grassroots level with athletes, coaches, and race directors — as well as the USA Triathlon Foundation — USA Triathlon provides leadership and support to elite athletes competing at international events, including International Triathlon Union (ITU) World Championships, Pan American Games and the Olympic and Paralympic Games. USA Triathlon is a proud member of the ITU and the United States Olympic & Paralympic Committee (USOPC).