#EveryRoadtoRio Blogs: Alison Patrick
Published 7 June 2016
Para-triathlete Alison Patrick became a world champion in 2014, less than a year after making her debut in the sport. Competing in the PT5 category for athletes with visual impairment, Alison has achieved automatic qualification for Rio 2016. She has given us the inside track on competing at the recent European Championships.
INSIDE THE EUROS
After I secured my qualification for Rio in the Buffalo City World Paratriathlon event (WPE) with guide, Nicole Walters, my training switched back to aerobic conditioning.
Most others on the squad were in a race-preparation phase as the Europeans provided opportunities to secure slots for Rio and impress the selectors. For me, however, the Europeans provided an opportunity to race with guide, Hazel Smith, and put into practice the skills we had been learning together in training.
We flew to Lisbon, whilst most of our kit travelled by van and ferry, arriving in plenty of time to give the legs a spin on the bike, eat and get a good night’s sleep.
The next couple of days, pre-race, involved going over race plans, light training, physiotherapy, race briefing and swim/bike course familiarisation.
For a visually impaired athlete who struggles to see much in bright sunshine, swim familiarisation provides a great opportunity to get a feel for the course. As I am unaware of when I am at a buoy, it is really useful to plan when my guide will tap me and plan the angle we will swim at after the tap.
Unfortunately, we didn’t get to ride the exact bike course for the race so we still had some questions about what the turns would be like (nice surprise during the race!) but it did give us chance to check the bike was working and feeling good and to practice our dismounts.
Sat on the pontoon, waiting for our wave to be called, Hazel reminds me of the angle we are heading for and to focus on my technique then it’s go time with a nice quick start!
I lead my wave out of the water after having a really solid swim as a pair.
Steady through transition and onto the bike where we were mounting with a Spanish men’s pair and the Dutch athlete in my category, who gets a three minute 48 second head start as she is a blind competitor.
A strong bike section allowed us to take the lead from the Dutch and put more time between us and our other challengers. Some tight turns allowed us great opportunity to practice our climbing out the saddle.
The atmosphere coming into transition was great with cheering from all the age group triathletes supporting us, but it did mean that Hazel had to be really clear when giving me instructions so that I could hear her over the noise. And then we were onto the run, my favourite bit of a triathlon.
I felt strong throughout. However, I have been suffering from a slight calf strain and the pain from this was getting steadily worse so, coming into the stadium at the end, we chose to walk and just enjoy the moment. Even though we didn’t finish the run in the way I would have wanted, we learnt so much from the race and I am really happy with how it went and how Hazel guided.
It was a great race for lots of our athletes with four European titles, two silver medals and a bronze with solid performances by the rest of the team. I am really proud of all the athletes and staff who made the trip awesome!
With a bit more rehab on my calf and preparations with guide, Grace France, I am preparing to race at the Besançon WPE on 19 June, following which the guides’ selection will be announced and I can start preparing with the guide I will race with in Rio.
Alison Patrick is one of 1,300 athletes supported by UK Sport’s National Lottery funded World Class Programme.
Follow Alison further on her road to Rio on Twitter @ali_p87