Australians Sally Pilbeam and Kerryn Harvey will renew their rivalry on Saturday (8 April) when the ITU World ParaTriathlon Series gets underway on their home course in Gold Coast.
It is actually the rivalry that makes them better in the women’s PTS4 category.
“Kerryn is an amazing athlete - she pushes me every time we race each other. We have very similar disabilities so we both learn a lot from each other. We both go out there to win, but always catch up for a drink after the race,” Pilbeam said.
Pilbeam, in fact, influenced Harvey to take up the sport after having her arm and shoulder amputated in 2013 after contracting a rare and life-threatening infection from a cycling crash.
“When I was first considering a return to triathlon I travelled to Sydney and watched Sally race; seeing her swimming, riding and running gave me the belief that it was all possible,” Harvey said.
The pair have gone head-to-head in local and international races. But there is one race that remains in Harvey’s memory, not just because she beat Pilbeam.
“It was Sunshine Coast back in 2014 and my second race as a Paratriathlete. Sally and I both suffered severely in the heat and humidity, and it was survival of the fittest. Sally was in front until around 1km to go on the run when I passed her. I can barely remember crossing the finish line in first place. Both of us ended up in ambulances on drips. It was epic but it took me a long time to recover,” Harvey said.
Harvey got her season underway at the Oceania Championships last month, while Pilbeam will begin her season in Gold Coast.
“Last year was difficult for me so I come into this year refreshed and feeling positive about the new season,” said PIlbeam, a two-time world champion. “I’m so fortunate to have the opportunity to travel around the world to compete, but racing at home is special. You always seem to find something extra when racing at home.”
Fellow Australian and five-time world champion Bill Chaffey began his season with a win after overcoming a crash to add another Oceania Championships title on his home course in March.
Chaffey will be hoping to win again on home soil in Gold Coast on Saturday, but he faces fierce competition in the men’s PTHC category. His main challenge will likely come from the Netherlands’ world and Paralympic champion Jetze Plat, who will be competing for the first time since winning gold at Rio 2016.
Another Paralympic champion on the start list includes Australian Katie Kelly in the women’s PTVI.
The USA’s Allysa Seely will be hoping to continue her positive start to the season with a win in the women’s PTS2 category. The Paralympic champion started the season strongly by winning the Sarasota CAMTRI ParaTriathlon American Championships in March.
Another US athlete in Mark Burr will be looking to start the season strong in the men’s PTS2 after just missing out on a medal at Rio 2016.
A live stream of the Gold Coast ITU Para Triathlon World Series will be live available at https://triathlonlive.tv/goldcoast. The competition can also be followed with the hashtags #WTSGoldCoast and #paratriathlon on Twitter and Facebook.