HUGE WIN: Casino para-triathlete Katie Kelly and guide Michellie Jones won first place in the PT5 category of the 2015 World Triathlon Championships in Chicago.
HUGE WIN: Casino para-triathlete Katie Kelly and guide Michellie Jones won first place in the PT5 category of the 2015 World Triathlon Championships in Chicago. Contributed

Katie chases paralympic dream after Chicago triathlon win

CASINO-born triathlete Katie Kelly has managed to swim, cycle and run her way to the top of the para world championship podium, despite being legally blind.

Kelly said she had a long track record of running, but only got involved in para-triathlons after being declared legally blind in February.

"I think it just shows you how as human beings we can be quite adaptable," she said.

"I've always just thought life's too short you've got to make the most of whatever opportunities you have.

"All my fellow athletes, some of them are amputees, some are in wheelchairs, the common thing we all have is (the mentality that) yeah, ok, there's certain limitations we have but there's obviously a lot of capabilities we do have and it's just tapping into those things that you can do."

In March this year, Kelly teamed up with two-time triathlon world champion and Olympic silver medallist Michellie Jones.

Last week, the pair took out first place in the PT5 category of the 2015 World Triathlon Championships in Chicago.

"I literally just made the start list, I was ranked number 10 in the world," Kelly said. "We hadn't raced against the Great Brits ... so to catch up with them on the bike like we did and win was just incredible."

The 40-year-old paratriathlete was born with Usher Syndrome, a relatively rare genetic disorder that causes hearing loss and visual impairment.

Kelly said she had worn hearing aids since she was very young, but only started to lose her vision in her mid-20s.

"It's tunnel vision, so basically I'm losing my peripheral vision," she said.

"Being vision impaired, it's quite challenging being in open water.

"You have a guide that's tethered to you in the swim and the run and you ride together on a tandem bike, so communication is a really big part and trust in them to lead you."

Kelly said she hoped to make the Australian para-triathlon team for the 2016 Rio Paralympics.

She said she was looking for support and sponsorships from businesses in her home town and around the Northern Rivers.

"For me, to really have a crack at Rio next year, ideally I would love to be training full time."



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