By Kent Gray/Triathlon.kiwi
No one ever said the path to Paris was going to be smooth for vision-impaired Paralympics hopeful Maria Williams. As it turned out at the World Triathlon Para Series (WTPS) opener in Tasmania on Saturday, it started with quite the hobble for the Wellingtonian.
A combination of a cool Devonport morning and a lingering hamstring niggle to guide Melissa Moon meant Williams’ did well to even finish just her second WTPS start.
Williams and Moon still bagged silver but their time of 1:54:18 for the PVTI sprint (750m swim, 20km bike and 5km run) was well below their abilities. The run was particularly painful as Moon, a two-time World mountain running champion, limped to a 44:04 split, the same time they registered on the bike which was a scary slippery after an early morning shower.
Saturday was more a case of ensuring they finished, chalking up some much-needed ranking points and moving on to the next WTPS race in Yokohama on May 13.
“You’ve got to take the good and the bad in sport and this wasn’t what we kind of anticipated,” Moon said.
“I’ve had a calf niggle which kind of flared up with the cold conditions here. That sadly forced us to sort of, hobble, the 5k but we already had that in mind that that could be the scenario and the goal, the objective was for Maria to cross that line.”
That was Williams’ cue to take up the story of their race.
“Cross that line and get some points and have another experience. This is only my second World Triathlon Para Series, I did the Montreal July last year, so it’s just good to come to this lovely place that we’ve never been to before.”
Tasmania put on a fairer face weather-wise for the later Oceania Sprint Championship but the bike course in particular was no cinch, especially not on a tandem. Indeed, only Williams and Moon, the other Aussie duo in the PVTI race, and one of the six men’s vision-impaired teams didn’t take a tumble.
“It just shows you how technical that course was and you’ve got to keep in mind, we’re driving big tandems with so many tight turns,” Moon said before Williams chipped in.
“And there’s so many other bikes. You know I was listening to them coming past us and it was raining as well. We didn’t expect the rain, it wasn’t in the forecast, so conditions were quite windy and a bit wet.”
On the Triathlonlive.tv coverage, one of the men’s duos pulled off an impressive flying mount before powering away on their tandem. Something to aim for?
“All those sort of things, because this is so new to us, we’re fine tuning every single race we’re coming away from,” Moon continued. “As I said to Maria, we can have all the time in the world to talk on the run cause we were going so slow thanks to me. I talked about what we were going to take away from this event and that’s part of sport.”
So, roll on Yokohama.
“Fast course and we’ll be ready,” said Moon. “Yeah, we’ll be right,” said Williams.