Para triathletes have changing of guard

·2-min read

The year before Sam Harding was born, fellow Australian Paralympian Gerrard Goesens started his storied sporting career.

On Sunday, 32 years later, there was a changing of the guard at the Commonwealth Games para triathlon at Sutton Park near Birmingham.

Harding and his guide Luke Harvey won the silver medal, with compatriots Jono Goerlach and David Mainwaring taking bronze behind English winner David Ellis and Luke Pollard.

Goesens, a three-time Paralympian, finished fifth with his pilot Hayden Armstrong and the 52-year-old emotionally called time.

"It's been a long 32 years and it's been an honour, but it's time," he said.

"For me, it's now a chance to hand it on to these young guys."

On an historic day for para triathlon - the first time visually-impaired competitors had raced at the Games and only the second time the sport was on the program - Harding and Goerlach showed the future is in excellent hands.

Goerlach and Harding are also Paralympians - but Harding was a middle-distance runner until late last year.

Wanting a change, Harding switched to para triathlon.

He and Harvey, an experienced triathlete, raced for the first time in January and won.

They were so new, they struggled to start at the Games because they lacked the necessary international ranking points.

"To get to the Comm Games was going to be touch and go. To walk away with a silver, it's huge," Harding said.

"I might have to chop it up into little bits and give it to everyone who's helped out.

"Luckily we had the right people helping us out and fighting for the spot."

While Harvey is the guide, he is also a willing student as they look to Paris 2024.

"He teaches me a heck of a lot about being an athlete and I teach him a couple of things about transition," Harvey said.

"It's a pretty good combo. We definitely didn't expect this six months ago.

"We still have a lot to learn and a long way to go, but it's an absolute ripper start."

Morning drizzle made conditions treacherous, especially for the tandem bikes, and the Scottish men crashed heavily.

The women's race went to England's Katie Crowhurst and Jessia Fullagar - only the second time they have raced together.

Australians Erica Burleigh and Felicity Cradick finished sixth.

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