GOLD COAST, Aus.—Canada’s Stefan Daniel is the king of Para-triathlon for the second-straight year after successfully defending his World Championship title in Gold Coast, Australia on Saturday morning.
The 2016 Paralympic silver medallist from Calgary walked onto the start pontoon, floating off Australia’s scenic coastline, determined to add another chapter to an already storybook career. He certainly didn’t disappoint. Daniel crossed the line, throwing the finish tape to the ground before burying his face in his hands while falling to the pavement himself after locking up his third World Championship title with a time of 57:43.
“Crossing the line knowing that I defended my title was a great feeling. I have had a tough year. I didn’t race well all season so this one is even more special than the rest,” said Daniel. “I knew I had put in the training. I knew it would show on race day so I was confident coming into this. I’m just really happy to get the job done.”
The reigning Paralympic gold medallist, Germany’s Martin Schulz, finished second behind Daniel for the second-straight year at the premiere international event after stopping the clock at 58:44. Great Britain’s George Peasgood was third at 59:14 in the men’s standing classification.
The 21-year-old Canadian cowboy has taken the Para-triathlon world by storm over the last six years. Born with bilateral radial club hands, with his right arm significantly more affected, Daniel first introduced himself to the triathlon world by winning a bronze medal (2013) and silver medal (2014) in his first two trips to the World Championships. He captured his first World title in 2015 which capped off a dream season where he also defied all odds to capture the junior men’s able-bodied National Championship crown in Magog, Que.
Daniel has been on a mission since losing the gold medal to his top rival, Schulz, at the sport’s Paralympic debut in 2016. Driven by that result, the soft-spoken Canuck smashed the field one year ago to reclaim his World Championship crown in Rotterdam, The Netherlands.
Never content, the University of Calgary student demonstrated his continued progression in the sprint distance race once again on Saturday.
A career best 750-metre swim had him coming out of the water in second, just 10 seconds behind British swimming ace, George Peasgood. Shedding the wetsuit in transition one, Daniel dropped to third spot by the completion of a breezy 20-kilometre scenic ride along the Gold Coast Highway. He entered second transition 80 seconds behind Peasgood, and 40 seconds behind Schulz with a five-kilometre run ahead of them to determine the King of 2018.
“I was so happy to have that good swim and take a lot of time off the lead than what I’m used to,” said Daniel. “I had been swimming well in March, but I haven’t been able to translate that into a race. The bike was a bit of a battle, but I knew I would have the running legs so I wanted to stay close.”
When foot hit pavement after the four-lap bike course, the Canadian put on a running show for the ages in Para-triathlon, clocking a five-kilometre run time at 15:56 – 78 seconds clear of the next fastest competitor in the deepest Para-triathlon classification.
“It is not often all three of us (Daniel, Schulz, Peasgood) get to race against each other throughout the year so I do get motivated when we are on the same start line,” said Daniel, who also beat Schulz while defending his home turf in Edmonton at the end of July.
“I didn’t come into this race any more nervous than usual. I’ve raced these guys before and I know we bring the best out of each other,” added Daniel. “I was definitely motivated today.”
Meanwhile, the Canadian women also chalked up two fourth-place finishes in Para-triathlon.
Jessica Tuomela (Sault Ste. Marie, Ont.) and her guide Lauren Babineau (Victoria) finished just off the podium in fourth in the visually impaired category. Canada’s rookie on the Para-triathlon scene, Kamylle Frenette (Dieppe, N.B.) also finished fourth in the women’s standing division.
Tuomela clocked a time of 1:10:06.
The classification was won by Spain’s Susana Rodriguez who crossed the finish line with a time of 1:06:32. Great Britain’s Alison Patrick was second at 1:07:37, while Australia’s Katie Kelly edged out Tuomela for the final spot on the podium with a time of 1:09:02.
Frenette capped off a strong season where she won a silver both in both World Cup and World Para-triathlon series races with a fourth-place finishing time of 1:10:52 on Saturday.
British athletes grabbed the top-two spots of the women’s standing podium. Lauren Steadman was first at 1:07:27, while Claire Cashmore won the silver medal at 1:08:50. Grace Norman, of the United States, rounded out the podium with a time of 1:09:52.
Jon Dunkerley (Ottawa) and his guide James Cook (Victoria) finished in eighth spot in the men’s visually impaired race. Coming off a bronze-medal performance at the World Para-triathlon Series in Edmonton, the Canadian duo stopped the clock at 1:04:56.
Dave Ellis, of Great Britain, won the classification with a time of 59:51.
The World Triathlon Grand Final continues on Saturday with the junior events, along with the women’s elite race.
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