Riall reflects on successful camp in Miyazaki

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The Paratriathlon team that are due to be competing at the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games have ended their camp in Miyazaki, South Japan on a high and are looking ahead to getting on the start line in Tokyo.

The eight-strong team have been getting used to the heat and humidity ahead of the challenging race conditions during the Games.

For Jonathon Riall, ParalympicsGB Triathlon Team Leader, the camp has offered the perfect opportunity for athletes to put the final touches to their race preparation.

“I don’t think we could have asked to get much more out of the camp for what we perceived as important for coming into Tokyo,” Riall said. “The only challenge that we faced was the weather for the first four to five days, but we had enough space to adapt plans really quickly. Athletes could turbo and we had an incredible outdoor gym that allowed us to continue the heat prep.

“The support we had on the ground was amazing. Anything we needed to do, whether that was open water swimming or good quality time trialling, they made it happen. They closed a stretch of highway for us which was about 12km, which gave the athletes the opportunity to nail some really good quality work.

“Their support meant we could individualise plans and create a fantastic team environment which allowed us to work through really good quality training before we arrived into a more pressured environment in Tokyo.”

The final few weeks before a Paralympic Games are essential to providing athletes with the best opportunity to recover from travel, acclimatise and prepare for their race on the biggest stage of their career.

“There was a lot riding on the camp, we hadn’t been in two years, and we have a very eclectic group of athletes with very different needs,” Riall said. “It was vital to have the ability to provide everybody exactly what they needed for their build up to the Games.

“There were also a few people who hadn’t been to Miyazaki before and there was a lot of trust being put into the decision to base ourselves there. I think being on the ground, having a great welcome, having a fantastic base to get over jetlag and seeing athletes really relaxed was great. The momentum really did build during their training, and you could see them ticking off their training goals and being in a really good place ready to race in Tokyo.”

There are two debutants on the team with the rest of the team having competed in Rio for paratriathlon or previous games in swimming.

“Experience of a Games environment isn’t always essential, and this Games brings with it a different kind of noise,” Riall said. “For someone who hasn’t been to a Games before, then they don’t know what the outside noise is like but for someone who has they are experiencing triathlon for the first time but are used to the wider noise. It’s an interesting dynamic.

“We have been able to set up our prep and build up in a very familiar triathlon feel. . Whether it’s a new sport or new experience, due to Covid, we’re all coming at this Games from the same place.”

The eight-strong team have shown potential by winning medals at most major competitions in the lead up to the Paralympics and will be looking to finish the cycle on a high.

“There have been some challenges for the team in the final few weeks but the whole reason to come out here was to see how we could overcome them,” Riall added. “I’ve been really proud of how the whole team have coped and worked together to ensure that the athletes are in good shape.

“All of the athletes are in a position to start and have their best race and we couldn’t ask for more than that. They are all training to their most consistent level that I’ve ever seen. There was a real feeling in the air for the team that they knew they were in a good place. This can add pressure but at the same time it’s going to a fair race and that’s all I could ask for. We know that whatever results we get that they will be fair.”

The paratriathlon action takes place on Friday 27 and Saturday 28 August from 22:30 BST, with both nights broadcast on Channel 4 following the Last Leg and in full online, providing fans in the UK with the opportunity to watch the races unfold.

Channel 4

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