Australian athletes with a disability now have the opportunity to make it all the way to the Paralympic Games in two of Australia’s most popular sports.
Para-Triathlon and Para-Canoe will make their Paralympic debuts in Rio 2016, after the International Paralympic Committee added them to the Paralympic sports program in 2010.
In the two years since, the number of athletes participating in both sports has increased significantly, which the Australian Paralympic Committee (APC) believes is due to its strong partnerships with Triathlon Australia and Australian Canoeing.
“Both national federations have really embraced the Paralympic disciplines of their sports and are building strong programs for athletes aiming for Rio 2016 as well as for developing athletes,” said APC General Manager for Sport, Michael Hartung.
“The APC has drawn on its expertise to add value to these programs in key areas such as classification and coach development. So far, both programs are on track for Rio.”
Twenty-nine athletes have gained national classification across both sports since 2010, with 16 in Para-Canoe and 13 in Para-Triathlon. Both sports have also experienced increased interest levels from elite athletes in other Paralympic sports, while the APC classification program has facilitated the training of three national classifiers in Para-Triathlon and two in Para-Canoe to increase the classification opportunities for new athletes.
“Many athletes from swimming, athletics, cycling and rowing are well suited to both triathlon and canoe so it makes sense for them to try it,” said Hartung.
“In terms of medal potential, plucking athletes from other sports where they might be struggling and introducing them to triathlon and canoe where they may thrive makes a lot of sense. They already understand the day to day life of an elite athlete, something which certainly takes time to develop.
“Our talent search and classification programs are also working closely with the national federations to identify and develop new talent in both sports and ensure athletes have access to classification.”