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Coaching and Support Staff Named for 2020 U.S. Paralympic Triathlon Team

By USA Triathlon | Aug. 16, 2021, 10:20 a.m. (ET)

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COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. — Longtime multisport coaches Derick Williamson and Mark Sortino, bike mechanic James Balentine and physical therapist Shefali Christopher will serve in key staff roles for the U.S. Paralympic Triathlon Team at this month’s Paralympic Games Tokyo 2020. 

The four individuals met the criteria outlined in the selection documents created by USA Triathlon and approved by the U.S. Olympic & Paralympic Committee. To be considered for the coaching role, an individual was required to have previous experience coaching paratriathletes at the international level, as well as a proven record of performance with USA Triathlon, a USA Triathlon Level II coaching certification or higher, and a USA Triathlon Paratriathlon Certification/Specialization. Candidates for the mechanic position were required to have expertise in sport-specific maintenance and repair of racing chairs, daily use wheelchairs, handcycles, tandems and upright bicycles, as well as a thorough knowledge of paratriathlon sport terminology. Candidates for the medical position were required to be able to provide appropriate medical care to the athletes, including restoring function, improving mobility and relieving pain as needed. They also had to approved by the USOPC Sports Medicine division by a medical credential review, attend mandatory trainings and also have served in this capacity with USA Triathlon at major competitions in the lead-up to the Games.

“We are confident we are bringing the most talented individuals who are the best fit to assist our athletes in achieving their goals in Tokyo,” said Amanda Duke Boulet, USA Triathlon Paralympic Program Director and team leader for the 2020 U.S. Paralympic Triathlon Team. “Each member of our coaching and support team brings a unique skill set that complements the others. We not only have a gold medal capable team, but a gold medal capable staff to support them.”

Together, the four join Duke Boulet and John Farra, USA Triathlon’s High Performance General Manager and team manager in Tokyo, to form the 2020 U.S. Paralympic Triathlon Team support staff. 

Williamson (Colorado Springs, Colo.) will serve as the head coach for the 2020 U.S. Paralympic Team. A USA Triathlon Level II Certified Coach and USA Triathlon Paratriathlon Certified Coach, Williamson has been head coach of the Toyota U.S. Paratriathlon Resident Team based at the U.S. Olympic & Paralympic Training Center in Colorado Springs, Colorado, since the team’s inception in 2018. The team includes 2020 U.S. Paralympic Triathlon Team members Allysa Seely (Glendale, Ariz., PTS2), Hailey Danz (Colorado Springs, Colo., PTS2), Melissa Stockwell (Colorado Springs, Colo., PTS2), Kendall Gretsch (Downers Grove, Ill., PTWC), Kyle Coon (Colorado Springs, Colo., PTVI) and Jamie Brown (Oceanside, Calif., PTS4). Williamson was named USA Triathlon’s 2018 Paralympic Coach of the Year. 

"It’s an honor to work with our Team USA paratriathletes,” Williamson said. “I see firsthand the dedication and hard work these athletes put in every day. I encourage everyone to watch these passionate, world-class athletes race on the biggest stage in Tokyo.” 

Sortino (Boise, Idaho) will serve as an assistant coach for the 2020 U.S. Paralympic Triathlon Team. He was the team’s head coach at the 2016 Paralympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, where paratriathlon made its Paralympic debut. Sortino is a USA Triathlon Level III Certified Coach, a USA Triathlon Paratriathlon Certified Coach, and the head coach, co-founder and CEO of Team MPI. The USA Triathlon Paratriathlon Coach of the Year in 2017, Sortino helped develop the USA Triathlon Paratriathlon Coaching Certification in 2017 and continues to teach USA Triathlon Level II Paratriathlon Specialization courses.  

Balentine (Austin, Texas) brings more than two decades of cycling expertise to his role as bike mechanic, where he will assist athletes in ensuring their cycling equipment is in proper working order. He served in the same role for the 2016 Paralympic Games in Rio. Balentine has served as the team mechanic for more than 25 international events for Team USA, both at the elite and age-group levels.

The team’s physical therapist, Christopher (Durham, N.C.) has worked with USA Paratriathlon since 2018 and has spoken at national and regional conferences on treating the triathlete and paratriathlete, and educating other health care providers on the epidemiology of triathlon and paratriathlon injuries and current treatments. Receiving her doctor of physical therapy from Duke University, Christopher teaches orthopedics and sports elective topics at Elon University and is the school’s director of sports physical therapy residency program.

Duke Boulet oversees the Paratriathlon High Performance pipeline for Tokyo 2020 and future Paralympic Games. She has been instrumental in the growth of paratriathlon in the U.S. for more than a decade, serving as team leader for U.S. paratriathletes at the 2016 Paralympic Games in Rio and several World Paratriathlon Events and World Paratriathlon Championships. Duke Boulet has also organized grassroots and military programming to help grow the sport.
  
Farra has directed USA Triathlon’s High Performance Department since 2018. He is responsible for leading all U.S. National Team programs, overseeing the Olympic and Paralympic pipelines, and directing high performance strategic planning. Farra is a 1992 U.S. Olympian in cross-country skiing. Prior to USA Triathlon, Farra worked at the USOPC, where he was High Performance Director for U.S. Paralympics Nordic Skiing. 

About the Paralympic Games 
Seventeen U.S. paratriathletes will compete in Tokyo across eight medal events (PTS4 men, PTS2 women, PTS5 men and women, PTVI men and women, PTWC men and women). 

The members of the U.S. Paralympic Team include: 
Elizabeth Baker (Signal Mountain, Tenn., PTVI) and guide Jillian Elliott (Gig Harbor, Wash.)
Jamie Brown (Oceanside, Calif., PTS4)
Kyle Coon (Colorado Springs, Colo., PTVI) and guide Andy Potts (Colorado Springs, Colo.)
Hailey Danz (Colorado Springs, Colo., PTS2)
Amy Dixon (Encinitas, Calif., PTVI) and guide Kirsten Sass (McKenzie, Tenn.)
Kelly Elmlinger (San Antonio, Texas, PTS5)
Kendall Gretsch (Downers Grove, Ill., PTWC)
Chris Hammer (Elkins, W.V., PTS5) 
Eric McElvenny (Pittsburgh, Pa., PTS4)
Grace Norman (Jamestown, Ohio, PTS5)
Allysa Seely (Glendale, Ariz., PTS2)
Brad Snyder (Princeton, N.J., PTVI), and guide Greg Billington (San Francisco, Calif.)
Melissa Stockwell (Colorado Springs, Colo., PTS2)

Paralympic Games Triathlon Schedule 

PTS4 men, PTS2 women, PTVI men and women: Friday, Aug. 27 at 5:30 p.m. ET (Event date/time in Tokyo is Saturday, Aug. 28 at 6:30 a.m.)
PTWC men and women, PTS5 men and women: Saturday, Aug. 28 at 5:30 p.m. ET (Event date/time in Tokyo is Sunday, Aug. 29 at 6:30 a.m.)
TV: Live TV coverage on the Olympic Channel begins at 5:30 p.m. ET both days

Visit usatriathlon.org/tokyo2020 for more on the U.S. Paralympic Triathlon Team.

About USA Triathlon Coach Certification Program
The Coach Certification Program develops prospective coaches, cultivates the need for coaches within the multisport community and assists coaches in turning their passions into vocations. It provides standards of quality and credibility in the marketplace and grows the sport and positively impacts communities by preparing and motivating coaches to be leaders among adaptive athletes, youth, high school, collegiate, NCAA women’s programs and underserved groups. USA Triathlon Certified Coaches are vital in growing, inspiring and supporting the triathlon community, and USA Triathlon is dedicated to providing certified coaches with unparalleled resources to ensure they are qualified, confident and successful throughout their coaching career.

About Tokyo United
USA Triathlon is promoting its elite athletes in the lead-up to, during and beyond the Tokyo Olympic and Paralympic Games with its Tokyo United campaign. Tokyo United showcases the resilience, determination and teamwork shown by U.S. Olympians and Paralympians, and the communities surrounding them, on their path to the Games. Tokyo United also refers to the common experience shared by the USA Triathlon family over the last year — from amateur athletes, race directors, coaches and clubs whose racing plans were upended, to U.S. Olympic and Paralympic hopefuls whose dreams were deferred — and the many ways we lifted each other up in hopes of a more promising 2021. The three-phased campaign begins with United to Tokyo, showcasing each U.S. Olympic and Paralympic triathlon hopeful’s journey from childhood to the biggest stage in sport — along with the family and support systems that helped them along the way. The second phase, United in Tokyo, brings together the entire multisport community and the global Olympic and Paralympic family to support Team USA at the pinnacle of competition, and to revel in the long-awaited Olympic and Paralympic moment. The final phase, United Beyond Tokyo, will celebrate the achievements of the 2020 U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Teams before passing the torch to aspiring triathletes with Olympic and Paralympic dreams for the Paris 2024 and Los Angeles 2028 Games.

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, paratriathlon, and indoor and virtual multisport events in the United States. Founded in 1982, USA Triathlon sanctions more than 4,000 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 World Triathlon Championships, Pan American Games and the Olympic and Paralympic Games. USA Triathlon is a proud member of World Triathlon and the United States Olympic & Paralympic Committee (USOPC).