COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. — Several of the nation’s top paratriathletes opened their season Sunday at the Sarasota-Bradenton Triathlon, an invitational race held at Nathan Benderson Park in Sarasota, Florida. Five members of the Toyota U.S. Paratriathlon National Team, and nine Americans overall, had gold-medal performances, showing promise on the road to the Paralympic Games Tokyo 2020. Postponed due to COVID-19, the Paralympic Games are set to place two weeks after the Olympic Games this summer, from Aug. 24-Sept. 5.
Sunday’s paratriathlon was initially scheduled as the 2021 Americas Triathlon Paratriathlon Championships, which would have been an Automatic Selection Event for the 2020 U.S. Paralympic Team. Due to COVID-19 travel restrictions for international competitors, it was announced last month that the Americas Triathlon Paratriathlon Championships designation would be removed, and the event would no longer serve as an auto-qualifier for U.S. athletes. Instead, Sunday’s race become a USA Paratriathlon Invitational, a discretionary selection event toward Games qualification for those who were able and willing to attend. More details can be found in the Games Selection Procedures below.
The paratriathlon event was part of a weekend-long multisport festival in Sarasota, which also included elite, youth elite and junior elite events on Saturday and an age-group draft-legal competition on Saturday. For complete results from all races at the Sarasota-Bradenton Triathlon Festival, visit srqtrifest.com.
Stringent COVID-19 safety measures were in place at Nathan Benderson Park throughout the weekend according to USA Triathlon’s Safe Return to Multisport guidelines, including face coverings at all times except when actively racing; contact reduction for athletes, staff and volunteers; and increased cleaning and disinfecting practices onsite.
All paratriathletes covered a 750-meter swim, 20-kilometer bike and 5-kilometer run.
In the men’s PTVI category, Kyle Coon (Colorado Springs, Colo.) and guide Andy Potts (Colorado Springs, Colo.) took the win with a time of 58 minutes, 18 seconds. Potts, a 2004 U.S. Olympian in triathlon, will aim to become the first Olympian to guide a U.S. paratriathlete at the Paralympic Games.
Earning silver in the men’s PTVI category was Aaron Scheidies (Seattle, Wash.) in 1:01:48. Scheidies did not compete with his usual guide, Ben Collins, but was instead guided by 2016 U.S. Olympian Greg Billington (Spokane, Wash.). Rounding out the men’s PTVI podium was Owen Cravens (Algonquin, Ill.), guided by Ryan Giuliano (Oakwood, Ill.), in 1:03:12.
The women’s PTVI category was won by Elizabeth Baker (Signal Mountain, Tenn.) and guide Jillian Petersen (Gig Harbor, Wash.), in 1:41:02.
Hailey Danz (Colorado Springs, Colo., 1:15:33) and Melissa Stockwell (Colorado Springs, Colo., 1:16:09) took gold and silver, respectively, in the women’s PTS2 category. Danz and Stockwell earned silver and bronze medals respectively at the Paralympic Games Rio 2016, sweeping the podium with U.S. teammate and gold medalist Allysa Seely (Seely did not compete Sunday in Sarasota).
Rookie triathlete Chris Marston (Mechanicsville, Va.) took the win in the men’s PTS3 category in 1:13:55. It was Marston’s first high performance paratriathlon race, after learning the basics of the sport at a USA Paratriathlon skills camp in 2019.
The men’s PTS4 victory went to Jamie Brown (Oceanside, Calif.) in 1:02:35. He was joined on the podium by silver medalist Omar Bermejo (Grand Rapids, Mich.), who finished in 1:12:14, and bronze medalist Uriah Steffen (Plainfield, Ind.), who crossed the line in 1:12:21.
Kelly Worrell (Cherry Hill, N.J.) broke the tape in the women’s PTS4 category. Rio 2016 Paralympic gold medalist Grace Norman (Jamestown, Ohio) took the women’s PTS5 win in 1:03:45, and Chris Hammer (Salt Lake City, Utah) was the men’s PTS5 champion in 58:36.
The men’s PTWC category saw fierce competition, with Howie Sanborn (Colorado Springs, Colo.) taking the win in 1:07:00. Zachary Stinson (Chambersburg, Pa.) was the runner-up in 1:09:28, and Zach Young (Cape Girardeau, Mo.) completed the podium in 1:39:56.
Games Selection Procedures
As of March 2021, no U.S. athletes have auto-qualified for the Tokyo U.S. Paralympic Triathlon Team. The selection criteria, qualification criteria and key dates/deadlines are currently under review for revisions based on the postponement of the Tokyo Games and the recent cancelation or postponement of key events on the World Triathlon elite paratriathlon circuit. USA Triathlon’s High Performance staff, the Games Selection Procedures Committees, and the Athletes Advisory Council are reviewing the changes announced by World Triathlon, and ensuring that Games Selection Procedures are prepared to select the best team to Tokyo in a wide variety of circumstances.
The USA Triathlon Invitational Paratriathlon Race on March 15 in Sarasota, Florida, served as a discretionary selection event toward Games qualification for those who were able and willing to attend. USA Triathlon is looking for an opportunity to host a potential replacement event for the 2021 Americas Triathlon Paratriathlon Championships and is reviewing if the USA Triathlon Invitational Paratriathlon Race or another USA Triathlon-sanctioned event in 2021 may be utilized as an Automatic Selection event. If no Automatic Selection event occurs or is deemed appropriate, then all remaining U.S. Paralympic Team spots will be filled using the 2019 World Triathlon Para Championships or via discretion — taking into account factors such as performances at 2019, 2020, and 2021 World Triathlon and USA Triathlon-sanctioned events, ranking on the World Triathlon Paralympic Qualification list, head-to-head performances, and relevant and verified training data.
2021 World Triathlon Para Season
In a unique start to the season, the first elite World Triathlon Para event of 2021 will be the World Triathlon Para Championships in Milan on May 8. After Worlds, the athletes will head to Yokohama, Japan, on May 15; Leeds, England, from June 5-6; and Montreal, Quebec, on June 23; for World Triathlon Para Series events. To view the complete season calendar, visit triathlon.org/events. Fans can learn more about USA Triathlon’s Olympic and Paralympic through the organization’s Tokyo United campaign, and by using #TokyoUnited and tagging @usatriathlon on social media.
For more information about elite paratriathlon and what it takes to represent Team USA at the Paralympic Games, visit usaparatriathlon.org.
Elite Paratriathlon — Complete Results
750m swim, 20k bike, 5k run
1. Kyle Coon (Colorado Springs, Colo.), guided by Andy Potts (Colorado Springs, Colo.), 58:18
2. Aaron Scheidies (Seattle, Wash.), guided by Greg Billington (Spokane, Wash.), 1:01:48
3. Owen Cravens (Algonquin, Ill.), guided by Ryan Giuliano (Oakwood, Ill.), 1:03:12
1. Elizabeth Baker (Signal Mountain, Tenn.), guided by Jillian Petersen (Gig Harbor, Wash.), 1:41:02
1. Hailey Danz (Colorado Springs, Colo.), 1:15:33
2. Melissa Stockwell (Colorado Springs, Colo.), 1:16:09
1. Chris Marston (Mechanicsville, Va.), 1:13:55
1. Jamie Brown (Oceanside, Calif.), 1:02:35
2. Omar Bermejo (Grand Rapids, Mich.), 1:12:14
3. Uriah Steffen (Plainfield, Ind.), 1:12:21
1. Kelly Worrell (Cherry Hill, N.J.) — final time not recorded
1. Chris Hammer (Salt Lake City, Utah), 58:36
1. Grace Norman (Jamestown, Ohio), 1:03:45
1. Howie Sanborn (Colorado Springs, Colo.), 1:07:00
2. Zachary Stinson (Chambersburg, Pa.), 1:09:28
3. Zach Young (Cape Girardeau, Mo.), 1:39:56
Age Group Draft-Legal Competition — Complete Results
750m swim, 20k bike, 5k run
1. Jenna Horner (Eden Prairie, Minn.), 1:01:37
2. Kemper Reback (North Palm Beach, Fla.), 1:01:58
3. Zoe Van Dijk (Elkins, W.V.), 1:02:03
1. Adoh Doherty (Taunton, Mass.), 54:13
2. Cole Ridenour (Newport Beach, Calif.), 55:42
3. Weston Hart (Los Angeles, Calif.), 55:51
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 4,000 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).