Racer gives new event thumbs up

WORLD triathlon champion Bill Chaffey is hoping his new hometown race – The Kingscliff Triathlon – on Sunday can become a flagship event to encourage more wheelchair athletes to give the sport a ‘tri’.

The Bilambil Heights resident, who won his wheelchair division at the ITU World Triathlon titles on the Gold Coast last September, is one of the more than 500 competitors who have entered the inaugural event so far, but only one of three with disability.

“It’s a great course and I’m particularly looking forward to the ocean swim,” he said.

“There should be more triathlon swims in the ocean.

“This race could be a great launching pad to increase the profile of the sport and get more wheelchair athletes involved.”

Chaffey has enticed two other wheelchair athletes to partake in Sunday’s festivities, and ultimately hopes the biannual event can be a centrepiece for wheelchair triathlon.

He said the almost completely flat course, including a run course devoid of any steps and dirt sections, made it an ideal triathlon for wheelchairs.

Beijing Paralympics silver medallist Marayke Jonkers will join Chaffey for the inaugural KT, along with debutant Danile Trollope.

The trio are aiming to earn a place at this year’s World Triathlon Championships in Budapest.

Meanwhile, Kingscliff banker Chris Watt and optometrist Russell Zahn are just thrilled just to have a major biannual event on their doorstep.

“We travel to the Sunshine Coast twice a year to be part of these events, so it will be great to have a major triathlon in our own town,” Watt said.

“It was too much to resist. I had to get in and have a go,” Russell said.

Race organisers have confirmed some road closures on race morning (March 7), with traffic to return to normal from midday.



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