London ITU World Championships
August 15, 2009
Yes, Julia and I found ourselves in London this morning!
I was one of ten disabled athletes-AKA Paratriathletes—selected from the USA National Paratriathlon team to compete in the Dextro Energy London World Championships. This was a major event for paratriathletes across the world, because members of the paralympic committee were present! We were not only representing our country, but we were there to perform for the Paralympics committee to press forward our lobbying efforts for triathlon to be included as a sport in the Paralympics in 2012 and if not then, by 2016 for sure!
Julia and I were up around 7:30AM. We made our way towards breakfast, which we followed by a lovely late (for Julia) and soy hot chocolate for me! But now what? The race was scheduled to get underway at 4:20PM!
We strolled around the South Kensington area for a bit, and then headed back to our room for a nap! This was just what the Dr ordered as I was still a bit tired from our travel to London! When I awoke, I packed my bag for the race—race timing chip, wet suit, sneakers, dry change of cloths for afterwards, water bottle, and energy gells. Our helmets were hanging on Shadi's handlebars already.
It was time to grab some lunch, which we did at Le Pain—a favorite back in NYC, which worked out well since we knew what we would get, and what would work well pre-race time!
Suddenly, the afternoon was upon us. It was back to the room to change into the team uniform, pick up our bags and Shadi, and head off to the race!
We arrived just in time to see the elite men's race finish—wow they were fast! Then we were in our transition zone setting everything up, and soon we were actually lining up to kick off the race!
There were 43 paratriathletes from six countries competing—Spain, Germany, France, Austria, Britain, and the USA/Canada! Each athlete, his/her race number, and the country being represented, was announced! "Ivonne Mosquera, Number 11 from The United States Of America" came through the loud speakers, and Julia and I, arm-in-arm walked out on to the swim start pontoon! I felt like a model coming down the run way! It was then that my nerves kicked in!
No time to panic now though, in what seemed like a few seconds, the announcer was giving us our race start instructions. Then, just like that, the horn went off and bodies were splashing and swimming away!
This is my weakest leg of the triathlon, I have some work to do on my swimming. But, I tried to stay relaxed, and to keep swimming and moving the entire time! After what seemed like eternity, we were out of the water! We'd be OK!
A strong volunteer helped us out of the water, and we were soon running into transition while stripping our arms out of the wetsuit! A blazing fast sip of water, and then it was into our socks and cycling shoes, and popping our helmits onto our heads. We both grabbed Shadi, and we were running out of transition and onto the bike corse! Once riding, thankfully a brief moment to catch our breath! The sun was out, temps were warm, and I had swallowed a bit too much Cerpentine water…Oh well…Peddle on, all around Hyde park—heading North and South on a set up route for us, and then looping West and East on another path. The crowd was cheering as we neared the bike dismount line! We'd soon be into the run, my favorite leg of the race!
We dismounted shadi, ran through transition, switch into sneakers, I grabbed my tether, and just like that, we were off again! No time to spare, the race was short, a super sprint, so every second was valuable!
Out onto the West-East path we had cycled just a couple of minutes before, and right into more sunshine! But it felt great to just lengthen out our stride and stretch our legs! "Blind runner coming through" came from Julia, and we past other fellow runners, again, "Coming Through, Blind runner", but this was a tight squeeze, we had runners and cyclists to pass! Ah, relief, we just made it through!
Spectators greeted us along the way, definitely providing a boost of energy and excitement for us! Though nothing is more rewarding than finally beginning to pick up the race announcer within hearing range! A left turn onto a straight away, a sharp right and left over some carpeted wooden ground, over a carpeted speed bump, and a short fast straight away! And then, one last burst of energy, one last lengthening of our stride and pumping our arms, and we crossed the finishing mats! We won the Silver metal in my division!
An incredible experience and opportunity to meet so many wonderful athletes and volunteers from across the world!
Thank you to the Challenged Athletes Foundation, The British Triathlon Union, the wonderfully giving volunteers, all of my team and international athletes, the ITU and Paralympics Committee, Dow Chemical for their support and flexibility and insuring I had the right messaging in place, and my guide and friend Julia for making this event possible for me!
Thanks For Reading!