The Barfoot & Thompson ITU World Triathlon Grand Final is a huge event attracting thousands of visitors to Auckland and New Zealand, setting records for entries in a wide range of events including Paratriathlon, an event that will debut on the Olympic programme in 2016 at Rio.
In fact the interest in Paratri has seen a world record for this World Championships, with 108 participants from 20 countries set to line up on Auckland’s waterfront on Monday afternoon.
"We could not be more excited about the number of paratriathletes participating in Auckland," ITU President and IOC Member Marisol Casado said. "Paratriathlon has been steadily growing over the last several years, as evidenced by the World Championship numbers. ITU is committed to fostering the sport, and we expect it to continue to grow as we get closer to the paratriathlon’s debut in the 2016 Paralympic Games"
Not only will New Zealand host the largest Paratri World Champs, it will contribute a number of leading competitors including Wellington’s Nick Ruane, something of a trailblazer in the sport. Already a silver medallist from the long distance world championships in 2011, Ruane is now looking to go one better at the upcoming ITU World Paratri Championships in Auckland, raced as part of the Barfoot & Thompson ITU World Triathlon Grand Final over Labour Weekend.
The Wellington athlete has been in the sport for a relatively short time, but has made great strides in that time.
"My first triathlon was in 2009, a local Wellington Scorching Tri event and I almost drowned as I couldn't swim! I then went on to successfully complete NZ Ironman in 2011 and bring home a Silver medal at LD Worlds in 2011, now Para triathlon Worlds 2012."
"Auckland 2012 for me is the first step in the pathway toward Rio 2016 Paralympics selection. I'm very excited to race the same course, with a couple of variations that I raced in November 2011, it's familiar, I enjoy Auckland and I can't wait to get up there."
Ruane is on a clear pathway towards the ultimate goal of racing well in Rio in 2016, and is treating Auckland as another stepping stone on the way.
"Long term I am looking at understanding the pathway toward Rio 2016, my goal is selection in 2016. Medium term I am looking to put together the best performances I can at World championships each year on that pathway. To improve each of my disciplines each year is the goal."
Ruane appreciates that he is something of a trail blazer for others in a similar situation to him, and takes on that responsibility happily.
"By completing in Triathlon I send a message to other people with disability that 'anything is possible' both in sport and in life. My message to people with disability is that if you want something enough, your passion for your goal will attract others to support you to achieve whatever goal you seek, as great things are seldom achieved outside of teams."
Ruane says nothing would be possible without the help of a great team around him.
"Nothing is possible without the support of family and the advice of coaches. I bring a house load of family and supporters who will be located in Devonport for the entirety of World Champs week and my coach Lynley Brown will be in Auckland for the event."
Paratriathlon fast facts:
- 108 participants from 20 countries (both records)
- Biggest ever at world champs
- Paratri world champs at 3.15 on Monday 22nd October
- Just been included in Rio programme for 2016
- Tri NZ has been working to grow paratri with national championship events
- Event requires handlers to assist athletes and includes 6 classifications of athletes depending on their disability
- Representation from all around the world