The International Paralympic Committee and International Triathlon Union have confirmed the Paratriathlon categories that will compete at the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games. Instead of the six medal categories in Rio, there will now be eight in Tokyo.
The following categories will be included in Tokyo, with women’s wheelchair athletes and male visually impaired athletes getting an opportunity to race at Paralympic level for the first time.
Male categories: PTWC, PTS4, PTS5, PTVI
Female categories: PTWC, PTS2, PTS5, PTVI
Previous medal winners Lauren Steadman (PTS5), Alison Patrick and Melissa Reid (PTVI) will have another opportunity to challenge for Paralympic medals, but defending champion, Andy Lewis MBE, sees the men’s PTS2 class omitted. Paralympian, Ryan Taylor also misses out.
British Triathlon CEO, Andy Salmon, said: "The decision about which Paratriathlon categories will be included in the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games has come earlier than expected and has disrupted our plans to prepare and support athletes. Whilst it gives us more time to prepare, it obviously has some major implications for the team as a whole in terms of athletes missing out on the opportunity to compete on the world’s biggest stage.”
He added: "It’s definitely positive to have four male and four female categories instead of three and three. This means that female wheelchair athletes and male visually impaired athletes are included for the first time. However, from a British perspective, we are extremely disappointed that Andy Lewis will not be able to defend his Paralympic title, and we have other athletes who will also miss out. Our immediate focus will be to support those athletes through this difficult time."
Lewis said: "I am devastated by the news that my class will not be included in the Tokyo 2020 programme and I will not have the opportunity to defend my Paralympic title. The news came out of the blue, and I need more time to digest it and consider my options, but my immediate thoughts remain on defending my ITU world title on the Gold Coast next month and continuing to do what I love; working with young people and schools.”
The women’s wheelchair class was not included in Rio, but Jade Jones-Hall now has the opportunity to race in Tokyo. She achieved a memorable victory on the Gold Coast at the Commonwealth Games. Similarly, Dave Ellis, the reigning ITU world champion gets his opportunity in the visually impaired category, which was omitted from Rio.
Jones commented: “The news on categories has come earlier than expected but obviously for me and the other female wheelchair athletes it’s fantastic. Our category wasn’t included in Rio, but now we have an opportunity to race on the biggest stage of all in Tokyo.”