Earlier today, Paralympics UK announced three UK Sport Lottery funded guide athletes had been added to the Great Britain Paratriathlon team ahead of the 2016 Paralympic qualifying campaign. These athletes are Grace France, Hazel Smith, Nicole Walters and Katie Henderson. The group of four were chosen as part of British Triathlon’s Guide2Gold talent identification campaign. In December of last year, there was an assessment with ten potential guides participating. This number was then whittled down.
France has sporting experience at the elite level, having been an British international in modern pentathalon with her first cap in 2010. Two years ago, she participated in the London hosted ITU World Championships where she won her 25 – 29 age group. She had has previously worked as a guide, helping Melissa Reid win silver earlier this month at the Buffalo City ITU World Paratriathlon Event.
Smith is from Edinburgh and has experience working with ITU Paratriathlon world champion Alison Patrick. She was part of the Scottish triathlon reserve team for the 2014 Commonwealth Games after taking up the sport in 2010. She is a national age group champion in the sprint and standard distances. Her prior sporting experience includes being a Scottish national swimmer on the junior level, and as a former rower for Durham University.
Walters also has experience serving as a guide. In 2013, she served as Melissa Reid’s guide at an event in London in 2013. Earlier this month, she worked with Rhiannon Henry at the Buffalo City ITU World Paratriathlon Event in South Africa where Henry came away with gold. She came to triathlon after being a national level squash player. She took up the sport of triathlon while attending the University of Bath.
Henderson is serving in a backup capacity to assist in development efforts for the sport. She comes into the guiding community as a format world record holder in masters swimming, and having competed in the 30-34 age group at last year’s Ironman70.3 world championships where she finished third.
Para-triathlon makes its debut on the Paralympic program at the 2016 Summer Paralympics in Rio.