Austin triathlete Patricia Walsh, who is blind, was among six U.S. paratriathletes who met the qualification standards to provisionally secure the first spots on the 2016 U.S. Paralympic Triathlon Team on Saturday at Copacabana Beach in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
Walsh finished as the top American in her sport class, and met the requirement to be within the top one-third of race starters in each sport class and within 5 percent of the winner’s time.
The individual spots are pending the availability of National Federation quota spots will be confirmed by winning performances in Chicago next month, as well as the rankings as of June 30, 2016. The confirmed U.S. Paralympic Triathlon Team will be officially named shortly thereafter.
A maximum of two athletes per sport class (men’s PT1, PT2 and PT4; women’s PT2, PT4, PT5) may earn spots for their country, for a possible team size of 12.
The athletes competed on a 750-meter swim, 20-kilometer bike, 5-kilometer run course.
In the final race of the day, Walsh made up time on the bike and run segments to finish third in the women’s PT5 (visually impaired) sport class. Her time was 1 hour, 11 minutes and 44 seconds.
"We had a really great race, and it worked out a little better than I expected, so that’s a pleasant surprise," Walsh said in a press release. "It was really exciting, but nerve-wracking too. You don’t know how it’s going to turn out. I felt like we really earned it. The goal was to come and figure out how we ranked overall and figure out what we need to work on for next year. I feel so proud to represent the U.S.
Action from Copacabana Beach continues tomorrow with the elite ITU World Olympic Qualification Event. The top-three finishers in the men’s and women’s races earn National Federation team quota spots, and Americans have a chance to earn a spot on the U.S. Olympic Triathlon Team if they finish within the top eight and are among the top-two U.S. finishers. Visit usatriathlon.org for more on the elite races.
*sport class to be contested at Rio de Janeiro 2016 Paralympic Games