SHOALHAVEN paratriathlete Jonathan Goerlach hasreturned from the inaugural Australian National Paratriathlon Championships as a champion.
Goerlach secured himself a fast-tracked place at
the 2013 Paratriathlon World Championships, to be held in September in London, after he took out the paratriathlon event in his tri-6 category.
Goerlach has retinitis pigmentosa, an eye condition that means he is declared legally blind, and competes in the tri-6 category with a guide.
The Australian championship was held at the Penrith International Regatta course on January 11 and gave athletes with a disability in Australia the opportunity to race on a course and at a venue that is designed to enable all classes of athletes to compete in a safe and protected environment.
The course was set at the same distance used at the ITU World Paratriathlon Championships, being a 750 metre swim, 20 kilometre cycle and five kilometre run.
For the first time, Goerlach was able to compete at an official Australian championships and he did not disappoint, easily beating the next man across the line by seven and a half minutes.
“I wasn’t really going for time,” he admitted.
“I had only had two weeks of training as I had come back from India playing for the Australian blind cricket team mid December, and then there was the Christmas and new year break.”
Goerlach said he was relieved to win the championships and know he has secured a place at the world championships.
“I now know that I have got
eight-and-a-half months to go so I can start seriously training and raising funds.”
Although Goerlach said he will take each leg as it comes, he hopes to be able to complete the course in under an hour and five minutes.
Goerlach hopes to improve on his fifth placing at the 2012 World Championship in Auckland.
“My goal this year is to make the podium. But I will have to work hard to raise funds to pay for me and my guide. I also want to be able to buy my own tandem bike,” he said.
Goerlach had to borrow a bike for the national championships and the 2012 world championships.
“I just want to be on a level playing field with the other competitors, who all have really high-tech bikes. At last year’s world champs, our bike was like a BMX bike in comparison. Some of the other competitor’s bikes weighed half of what ours did.”
The Australian and world championship events go towards the selection for the 2016 summer Paralympics, where the paratriathlon event will be held for the first time.
Goerlach said Triathlon Australia is working to build support for the event, which is growing in popularity in the world of disabled sports.
“We had 12 competitors in the world champs last year. This year may have doubled that.”
“But we want to build the profile of the sport because we want competition, we want someone to beat us. If you have got no one pushing you, you have no one to compare to,” he said.
Goerlach is desperately looking for sponsors to help him on his way to London. If you can assist, email him at email@example.com