12 September 2016
Michellie Jones won Australia’s first Olympic triathlon medal in 2000, but she says Katie Kelly has “legendary status” after becoming Australia’s first Para-Triathlon gold medallist.
Kelly took gold in the women’s PT5 para-triathlon for athletes with vision impairment, guided by her teammate Jones, the silver medallist from the Sydney 2000 Olympics.
“KK is a legend,” Jones said on the Australian Paralympic Team's website. “This is legendary status. She went out there. A lot of people don’t know we struggled with injuries before the world championships and we came through. KK struggled with injuries up until July. So it’s just amazing what she’s done in such short amount of time.”
Stress fractures in her legs had hampered Kelly’s Rio preparations this year, but that mattered little when she and Jones took the lead on the cycle leg and never looked back. The Australian duo posted a winning time of 1:12.18 over the 750m swim, 22.28km ride and 5km run.
“I was saying to Michellie that it’s something that you wish for, but these triathlon competitions I never take it for granted and it’s hard work out there. You can’t underestimate how hard it is to get there,” Kelly said.
“I’m just really honoured and chuffed, and to do that in para-triathlon here in Rio is a really special moment.”
“When I crossed the finish line I felt relieved. I’ve just been through such an intense training, and to keep the body in shape it takes so much.”
Australia won more gold in the pool, teenager Maddison Elliott leading an Aussie quinella in the S8 100m freestyle ahead of Lakeisha Patterson.
Elliott, a bronze medallist in the same event in London as a 13-year-old, won in a new Paralympic record time of 1.04.73. Patterson, a gold medallist in the 400m, took silver.
“I’m actually pretty happy to get my main event out of the way and for it to be a gold, I am super stoked,” said Elliott.
Having set a new Paralympic record in the heats, Daniel Fox dropped a further half a second off his morning swim in the S14 200m freestyle to snare silver.
Timothy Disken, based at the AIS, claimed bronze in the men’s SM9 200m IM in a personal best time of 2.17.22.
“To get a bronze in my first Paralympic final is absolutely amazing, especially in front of the crowd that is here tonight. I executed my skills a lot better tonight so I’m really happy with the way that race went.”
Gold eluded Australia on the track, but there were still plenty of medals to celebrate.
Wheelchair racing veterans Kurt Fearnley and Angie Ballard, who have 10 Paralympic Games experience between them, took bronze in the 5000m and 400m respectively.
And then there was 23-year-old Taylor Doyle, who has an intellectual impairment after surgery for epilepsy proved unsuccessful. She came out and leapt a personal best 4.62m in the women’s T38 long jump for a silver medal at her maiden Paralympic Games.
“I just enjoyed myself. The day has been exceptional because I never expected to get that PB,” Doyle said. “You’ve just got to believe in yourself and anything can happen.”