DEVONPORT, Australia — Amy Dixon (Encinitas, Calif.) and Melissa Stockwell (Chicago, Ill.) earned silver medals in the first race of the 2020 ITU World Paratriathlon Series, held Saturday in Devonport. Eric McElvenny (Pittsburgh, Pa.) also represented the U.S., recording an 11th-place finish in his WPS debut.
The race, which falls within the International Triathlon Union’s Paralympic qualification period, gave athletes a valuable opportunity to earn points toward their Paralympic rankings on the road to the Paralympic Games Tokyo 2020.
The scenic course in Devonport featured a 750-meter ocean swim off the Tasmanian coast, followed by a 20-kilometer bike and 5-kilometer run along the waterfront.
Dixon, competing in the women’s PTVI division with guide Kirsten Sass (McKenzie, Tenn.), exited the water in fourth place — more than a minute down from swim leader Anna Barbaro of Italy. She made up ground on the bike and run, recording the fastest splits of the women’s PTVI field in both disciplines. She ultimately crossed the finish line in 1 hour, 19 minutes, 28 seconds, earning the silver medal behind Barbaro (1:17:22) and narrowly edging bronze medalist Vita Oleksiuk of Ukraine (1:19:36).
The silver marks Dixon’s ninth career medal in an ITU World Paratriathlon event.
“That was the hardest race I’ve ever faced,” Dixon said. “A rough, but fun, challenging and choppy ocean swim, a brutally windy and technical bike course with the Ukraine and Japanese women in hot pursuit with every pedal stroke, and a run that was strategic and came down to a sprint finish where I collapsed at the finish line, having left it all out there. Tokyo is looking closer than ever with a fantastic start to our season!”
In the women’s PTS2 category, Stockwell exited the water in second place, 14 seconds behind Japan’s Yukako Hata. She held onto the silver-medal position for the rest of the race, crossing the line with a time of 1:33:00. Hata took the gold in 1:29:46, and Spain’s Rakel Mateo Uriarte rounded out the podium in 1:45:33.
Stockwell’s performance marks her first WTS podium since 2016, which is also the year she won bronze in in the debut of paratriathlon at the Paralympic Games Rio 2016. In 2018, she and her family moved from their hometown of Chicago to Colorado Springs, Colorado, to train with the Toyota U.S. Paratriathlon Resident Team at the U.S. Olympic & Paralympic Training Center, in hopes of securing a spot at the Tokyo 2020 Games.
“I always love getting to bring home a medal to my kids, this time silver from a second-place finish,” Stockwell said. “It’s a long trip back home tomorrow to reflect on how lucky I am to travel the world with these incredible teammates of mine, and with a husband and kids back home who cheer me on through it all.”
In the men’s PTS4 division, McElvenny made his WPS debut with an 11th-place finish in 1:11:53. Russia’s Mikhail Kolmakov took the win in 1:07:46, followed by Croatia’s Antonio Franko in second (1:07:59) and Japan’s Hideki Uda in third (1:08:16).
The United States’ top paratriathletes will now return stateside for two consecutive races in Sarasota-Bradenton, Florida: the PATCO Sprint Triathlon Panamerican Championships on March 14, followed by an ITU Paratriathlon World Cup on March 22. The ITU Paratriathlon World Championships are set for May 2-3 in Milan.
ITU World Paratriathlon Devonport
750m swim, 20k bike, 5k run | Complete Results
1. Yukako Hata (JPN), 1:29:47
2. Melissa Stockwell (Chicago, Ill.), 1:33:00
3. Rakel Mateo Uriarte (ESP), 1:45:33
1. Anna Barbaro (ITA), 1:17:22
2. Amy Dixon (Encinitas, Calif.), 1:19:28
3. Vita Oleksiuk (UKR), 1:19:36
1. Mikhail Kolmakov (RUS), 1:07:46
2. Antonio Franko (CRO), 1:07:59
3. Hideki Uda (JPN), 1:08:16
11. Eric McElvenny (Pittsburgh, Pa.), 1:11:53
About USA Triathlon
USA Triathlon is proud to serve as the National Governing Body for triathlon, as well as duathlon, aquathlon, aquabike, winter triathlon, off-road triathlon and paratriathlon in the United States. Founded in 1982, USA Triathlon sanctions more than 4,300 events and connects with more than 400,000 members each year, making it the largest multisport organization in the world. In addition to its work at the grassroots level with athletes, coaches, and race directors — as well as the USA Triathlon Foundation — USA Triathlon provides leadership and support to elite athletes competing at international events, including International Triathlon Union (ITU) World Championships, Pan American Games and the Olympic and Paralympic Games. USA Triathlon is a proud member of the ITU and the United States Olympic & Paralympic Committee (USOPC).