CHENNAI: Chennai will host country's first Para Triathlon on September 26. It will be organised along with Triathlon and Mixed Relay (Q) ITF Open starting September 24 at the Centre for Sports Science (CSS), Sri Ramachandra University Campus in the city. Para event will be held on the final day.
As many as 24 para athletes including two visually impaired are in the fray for the top honours. Para athletes have to complete super sprint distance including 250m swimming, 7km cycling and 1.5km running.
"This will be the first para triathlon to be held in the country. The Indian Triathlon Federation (ITF) got the affiliation from the Paralympic Committee of India (PCI) a couple of months ago. Our sole intention is to promote para triathlon in the country as we believe we have a good chance of winning international medals in para triathlon," Harish Prasad, national development officer of ITF, told this daily.
Given the course in Chennai, the ITF has decided to include almost all the categories except for wheelchair athletes. "As many as 33 registrants were there based on various classifications the para sports have. Factoring all those classifications, we have categorised the participants. As we are starting and want to build the base, we have included all the categories excluding wheelchair athletes because the track here is very risky. The course has many turns and curves which are dangerous for them. Small speed breakers are also there so we did not want to take that risk," added Prasad.
Speaking on the visually impaired athletes, he said, "Both of them are well experienced as they have done long distance triathlon along with able-bodied athletes with help from their tandem partners."
Conducted by Tamil Nadu Triathlon Association under the aegis of the ITF, the event will be the first qualifier for the 2022 Commonwealth Games and Asian Games. Athletes with the best timing in sprint distance, Olympic distance and mixed team relay will be invited for the national camps and provisionally considered for selection of the national contingent for the 2022 CWG and Asiad subject to performances and approval of the Indian government.
However, the event will not serve as the qualifier for the para athletes. "As this is for the first time we are holding the para triathlon, it will not be a qualifier for any upcoming international events," informed Prasad.