Christine Robbins places fourth in women’s PT5 classification
By Chris Dornan
YOKOHAMA, Jpn—Canada’s Stefan Daniel began the 2016 season by hopping onto the same step of the international para-triathlon podium that he ended last year – on top!
The teenage para-triathlete continued the momentum from a dream season in 2015 where he captured Canada’s first ever World Para-triathlon Championship title, by smashing many of the top para-triathletes on the planet in Saturday’s season opener with a time of 58:56 in Yokohama, Japan.
“I tried to get on the feet of the Brazilian and Mexican athletes. They are really strong swimmers. It was choppy waters so that helped block some water for me,” said Daniel.
After the solid 750-metre swim, the 19-year-old Calgarian cranked up the heat on the challenging 20-kilometre bike course before heading into his wheelhouse for the five-kilometre run.
“The bike was really technical with lots of turns, but I was able to get the speed up,” said Daniel. “The run was good. It was a nice, flat and fast course and very scenic. I am happy with how the race went I’m looking forward to the rest of the season.”
Mexico’s Jose Abraham Estrada Sierra was the next best finisher in the men’s standing PT4 classification, clocking-in at 1:00:06. Russia’s Alexander Yalchik rounded out the podium in third with a time of 1:00:33.
It will be a big year ahead for the young Canadian. Born with bilateral radial club hands with is right arm significantly more affected, Daniel is the early favourite to win para-triathlon’s first ever gold medal at the 2016 Paralympic Summer Games thanks to a stellar resume he has put together over the last four years.
After winning winning a bronze and silver medal in his first two trips to the World Championships, Daniel celebrated the gold one year ago in Chicago which capped off a dream season where he not only racked up three golds and one silver while competing in the deepest classification in the four World Para-triathlon races last year. Topping that off, he also defied all odds to capture the junior men’s National Championship crown in Magog, Que. despite a significant disadvantage to the field.
Two other Canadians also continued their quest to qualify for the Rio Games on Saturday. Ottawa’s Christine Robbins and her guide, Sasha Boulton, were fourth in the women’s PT5 divison for visually impaired athletes, posting a time of 1:16:09. Quebec’s Pierre Ouellet finished ninth in the men’s PT1 class where he clocked a time of 1:17:01.