By Andrew Dewhurst on 14/05/15 at 6:30 am
Yokohama led the way with one of the first press conferences to feature the elite paratriathlon athletes hosted in front of a large and eager media contingent today, with interest heightened by the presence of popular local and international paratriathletes.
Yukako Hata (PT2) and Junpei Kimura (PT1) provided the local presence, with Krige Schabort (USA – PT1), Mark Barr (USA – PT2) and Emily Tapp (AUS – PT1) the international flavour as the media gathered to preview a race vital for many in securing Olympic ranking points for Rio 2016.
The Japanese competitors were asked about the year that lies ahead.
“This year is very important with Rio coming up and the ITU Grand Final in Chicago, Yokohama is very important to get the most points and open those gates to Rio. My schedule and training is very hard for the Asian games in Hiroshima, there are still areas to improve on bike and run, my final goal is to do the best I can to improve those areas, work way up to get points and then do well in Chicago and then on to Rio.”
“My goals are to go to Rio Olympics but some areas personally to improve, I believe I can be better and aim for a higher position here at this tri. This year is important to get points to go to Chicago and make my way to Rio. I need to improve in areas but I will do my best this year to get the points.”
Krige Schabort was humbled when he entered the media conference to see a full turnout of media, photographers and television cameras.
“I am delighted to be here today, it is quite a moment in my life to be at a press conference like this with all of the media here, it is like paratriathlon has arrived, it is amazing to see you guys here supporting us, we thank you for that and hope you continue to support the paratriathlon movement. I am a wheelchair racer historically – or pre-historically you might say! I am the oldest on the spectrum, I have been racing for a long time, my first real press conference was 1991 in the south of Japan, I have done the marathon there, today is nice to be back in Japan again, I wondered if I would ever get back and here I am doing a triathlon.
“My aspirations are to go to Rio, I have never been in South America, I would like to go visit and one way to get there is for your Federation to be behind you if you are a good athlete. It is a personal goal for me to compete for my country, I have been to five Olympics before, my first in 1992, I never guessed I would be competing this long, I am just grateful and hopeful for one more next year.”
“My goals are to enjoy it first, because I do it for the love of the sport, this is why I have been racing 25 years. I am looking forward to the race, to learn more about the competition and myself and see how far I can go and plan a strategy for racing for the rest of the year, and just to go hard!”
Mark Barr was equally overawed when he walked into the room, remarking that ‘you didn’t tell me this was the real deal!’
“I also want to reiterate what Krige said, this is awesome, paratriathlon has made it, this is the first press conference I know of for the sport so thank you. My goals in this race are to race hard and have a smart race and let all the training I have done for this race showcase on Saturday, I won the CAMTRI (Continental Championships) race two weeks ago and did a personal best on the bike and run, I want a smart race and hopefully that will be enough to win.”
“I was at the Olympics in 2004 and 2008 in swimming, I have experienced all of it, the opening ceremony and how awesome it is, that is motivation for me to make the team, especially in the inaugural Paratriathlon, to be at the first one would be extra sweet.”
Emily Tapp (AUS) spoke of readiness for the race on Saturday morning and of other goals for Rio given her category is not on the Olympic programme.
“My goals are to improve each individual leg, in particular the swim, I have to be long and strong in that discipline. My physical condition is great, I am going from strength to strength and feel quite fit and healthy at the moment.
“Unfortunately my class is not in Rio for the triathlon so I won’t be able to compete but hope to be there on the track, but for Paratriathlon my ultimate goal is the world championships in Chicago.”
Find more details about this event - 2015 Yokohama ITU World Paratriathlon Event