Britain’s paratriathlon team returned from the 2017 European Championships in Kitzbühel with six gold, two silver and two bronze medals.
All the athletes who medalled for ParalympicsGB as the sport made its Paralympic debut in 2016 were present in Austria, with Rio gold medallist, Andy Lewis, winning one of the golds.
Lewis (PTS2) was the defending champion and showed he meant business by setting the fastest time through the water. Racing at the front throughout, he took the tape almost two minutes ahead of second placed Bahier of France.
On securing the win, Lewis said: “I’m really happy with the result, to regain my title from last year, yeah, I’m really happy.”
Having come second in Rio, Lauren Steadman was back to winning ways in the women’s PTS5 category, with Kerry Large finishing fourth in the same category.
Setting the fastest swim and bike times, Steadman dominated from start to finish in Kitzbühel after taking a break from competition to complete her university dissertation following Rio.
After taking the win, Steadman said: “I’ve had seven months off since Rio, so I was a bit nervous about how it was going to be. It’s been a long time off, so it’s really good to be back.”
Racing in the women’s PTVI category for Great Britain were Melissa Reid and Alison Patrick (now Peasgood), who had won bronze and silver respectively in Rio.
This time round in was Reid, guided by Hazel McLeod, who finished first of the two Brits as she took the European crown, with Patrick narrowly missing out on the podium as she finished fourth.
Patrick was the first out of the water, however a puncture on the bike saw her lose her lead to Reid, with Spaniard, Rodriguez and German, Dieter also passing her. Despite posting the fastest run time, Patrick was unable to catch them as Reid claimed the win by over 90 seconds.
There was further gold for Britain in the men’s PTVI race, as Dave Ellis and his guide Carl Shaw led from the outset to win.
Ellis, who had taken a couple of years away from the sport, managed to stay ahead despite a late effort to chase him down on the run, commenting: “It’s great to be back in and winning.”
In only her second international race, Jade Hall made an instant impact on the European stage by winning gold in the PTWC category.
Also competing on the para-athletics track where she’d been setting national records that year, Hall took the initiative from the outset as she posted the fastest swim time and won the race by three and a half minutes.
Karen Darke and Lizzie Tench were also competing alongside Hall, with Darke taking the bronze having taken gold at the same event in 2014 and world silver medallist, Tench finishing fifth.
The final gold medal winner was Cassie Cava, a then-member of the national snowboarding squad, showing her potential in a summer Paralympic sport as well as winter.
There was further medal success for the team, with Fran Brown and Steven Crowley both claiming silver medals.
Brown (PTS2) set the fastest bike split of the race, however, was unable to catch Lilja of Finland, who assured victory by setting a phenomenally quick run time.
In the men’s PTS4 race, Crowley battled hard to ensure he left Austria with a medal. Always within touching distance of winner Alexis Hanquinquant (FRA), Crowley wasn’t quite able to catch him, instead bringing home the silver medal.
George Peasgood also added a bronze medal to the collection in the men’s PTS5 category, missing out on silver by eleven seconds, as Ruiz Lopez passed him on the run to finish second behind Schulz of Germany.
For Peasgood, who was the youngest member of the ParalympicsGB team in Rio, this was his first ever championship medal.
On his achievement, he said: “I had a little bit of a tear coming across the line. The run’s been the main focus in the last year after Rio, and it’s shown how much I’ve improved.”
Reflecting on the team’s success in bring home 10 medals between them, Paratriathlon Head Coach Jonathan Riall said: “To have really, quite a developmental team still with people who are probably no longer than two or three years into the sport, some of them a lot younger is just fantastic.
“The whole week has been really smooth, even though the weather’s been a bit miserable on us today, actually the racing out there was absolutely to plan. So yeah, perfect.
The Swim, Bike and Rerun series is continuing to bring back to life the success of British athletes across recent years.