COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. — USA Triathlon today named Allysa Seely and Chris Hammer as the 2019 Elite Paratriathletes of the Year presented by Wahoo Fitness, recognizing their standout performances on the world stage throughout the 2019 season. Up-and-coming stars Joshua Sweeney and Nicole Ver Kuilen were named Paratriathlon Development Athletes of the Year, as both collected national titles and had breakout performances in international competition in 2019.
Seely (Glendale, Ariz.) captured gold medals at the first three ITU World Paratriathlon Series events of 2019 in Milan; Yokohama, Japan; and Montreal. In each of those outings, she recorded the fastest run split of the women’s PTS2 field. She went on to earn silver at the ITU Paratriathlon World Championships in Lausanne, Switzerland, adding a fifth career world championship medal to her collection.
“To be recognized as Athlete of the Year for the excellence I have sought to achieve is nothing short of incredible for me,” Seely said. “With the Tokyo Paralympics on the horizon, 2020 is a big year. All of my focus has shifted to be the strongest and most prepared athlete I can be on August 29. I know if I can do just that, I have a chance at accomplishing my goal of defending my gold medal from 2016 and standing on top of the podium for the USA once again.”
Hammer (Salt Lake City, Utah) started 2019 strong with a third-place finish at the Sarasota-Bradenton CAMTRI Paratriathlon American Championships. He went on to take silver at ITU World Paratriathlon Yokohama, before grabbing his first victory of the year at the Magog ITU Paratriathlon World Cup. At the world championships in Lausanne, Hammer had the fastest run of the men’s PTS5 field en route to a bronze medal — a significant improvement upon his seventh-place finish from 2018.
Hammer was quick to note he was not the only elite men’s paratriathlete to achieve standout results in 2019, giving a nod to fellow Toyota U.S. Paratriathlon National Team athletes Aaron Scheidies, the 2019 men’s PTVI world bronze medalist, and Jamie Brown, the men’s PTS4 bronze medalist at the Tokyo ITU Paratriathlon World Cup.
“It’s a huge honor, especially considering how fast and successful the other U.S. male paratriathletes were in 2019, such as Aaron Scheidies and Jamie Brown,” Hammer said. “I’m really just thankful that USA Triathlon has given me the opportunity to travel and represent our country. I wouldn’t have won this award if it weren’t for the time, energy and resources that USA Triathlon has invested in me.”
Sweeney (Hillsboro, Ore.) was named Men’s Paratriathlon Development Athlete of the Year after a breakout rookie season. A former sled hockey athlete who helped Team USA to a gold medal at the Paralympic Winter Games Sochi 2014, Sweeney transferred to paratriathlon in 2019 and saw immediate success. In his first elite race, the Sarasota-Bradenton CAMTRI Paratriathlon American Championships, he took gold in the men’s PTWC category. He went on to win the Toyota USA Paratriathlon National Championships in Long Beach, California; place fifth at the Tokyo ITU Paratriathlon World Cup; and earn a 12th-place finish at his first world championships.
“I feel very honored to have been selected for this award because I know each and every one of us worked as hard as we could to become the best triathlete last season,” Sweeney said. “I am sure it was a hard selection to make.”
Ver Kuilen (Seattle, Wash.), the Women’s Paratriathlon Development Athlete of the Year, was also new to elite paratriathlon in 2019. She opened the season with a silver-medal performance at the Sarasota-Bradenton CAMTRI Paratriathlon American Championships. Then at the national championships in Long Beach, she earned a breakout victory, winning the women’s PTS4 division with a four-minute margin on her closest competitor.
“I feel humbled, grateful and excited for what’s to come,” Ver Kuilen said. “Humbled because I always have room to grow. Grateful to my entire team that made this opportunity possible. And excited to keep putting in the hard work, doing a sport I love.”
The 2019 USA Triathlon Elite Paratriathlete of the Year selections are as follows:
Women’s Elite Paratriathlete of the Year: Allysa Seely (Glendale, Ariz.)
Men’s Elite Paratriathlete of the Year: Chris Hammer (Salt Lake City, Utah)
Women’s Paratriathlon Development Athlete of the Year: Nicole Ver Kuilen (Saginaw, Mich.)
Men’s Paratriathlon Development Athlete of the Year: Joshua Sweeney (Hillsboro, Ore.)
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).