Friday, January 31, 2014

Tri-Friend: Liz Mcternan (Paratriathlete/Cyclist from England)

"Met" Liz via twitter and am excited to feature her on the blog. Liz is a para-triathlete/cyclist from England who has hopes to be in the 2016 Rio Olympics for para-cycling.  I wanted to share her journey to have others follow her journey along with providing some resources for those who are interested in learning more.  I also have attached some resources I have found. 

1. Tell us a little about yourself in a few sentences.
I discovered my competitive side in my mid forties after raising a family and having two careers-one as a Graphic Designer in London and then as a Teacher in Further Education. I've always been sporty, horse riding, skiing and scuba diving before my spinal cord injury 8 years ago.

2. Can you tell us how you got into triathlons.
I started swimming as physical therapy after my SCI (Spinal Cord Injury) and progressed to swimming a mile three times a week with a pull buoy strapped between my legs. A lifeguard at the pool suggested I try triathlon which I'd never heard of. I looked into it and contacted the National Federation in the UK. My very first competiion was the British National Championships in 2011 where I came second in my category.

3. What is one misconception about para-triathletes and/or one thing most of us would be surprised to find out?

The race format for para-triathletes is exactly the same as for AG events. The swim portion is, however, shortened if the water/air temperature is too low as some athletes have neurological impairments which affect their thermo-regulation. Modified equipment e.g. leg splints, gear levers on one side of the bike, orthotics etc. have to be formally approved by ITU before racing, but apart from aids, everything about the race is the same as Age Groupers.

4. What online resources are available for those interested in getting involved in para-triathlon 
Unfortunately, there is very little information available on-line, at least in the UK. The information on the US Triathlon and Australian National Federations is however, quite informative. There are a couple of Facebook pages: ITU Paratriathlon Athletes/Paratraithlon/Paratri Athletes Australia, where athletes and beginners can discuss classification, races, equipment etc.

Drafting during hand cycle race
5. what are your future goals
I've actually switched sports to para-cycling after not gaining a place on the UK Sport funded squad for GB last year. I'm currently ranked 6th in the world in my category H3 for hand cycling and am hopeful of improving my performances enough that I am included in the British Cycling Squad for Rio in 2016.
Virgin London Marathon

Tell us a little about your gear and how sponsors have helped your journey:
I own a Top End Force R recumbent hand bike which I've had for two years and hanker after a new Carbon bike, but this is not possible without funding or sponsors.  When I competed in paratriathlon, I was lucky to be sponsored for a wetsuit from Huub as these specialist suits costs over £400 each. I relied entirely on charitable donations and prize money to afford to train and compete and used my savings to purchase my adaptive equipment. This year I've been awarded a grant from The Women's Sports Trust to help with some competition costs, but am currently actively looking for sponsors to enable me to pay for a specialist cycling coach, PT, Physio, Massage and travel and competition costs this year, as I have self coached and managed up until now, but feel I need to take a more professional approach if I am to succeed in my goal of making it to Rio.

Wishing Liz (and her guns) the best in her journey to Rio!

Follow Liz at:

Also, here are some resources I found on the internet for Chicago and US groups: (Chicago)
Our group is made up of amputees of all levels who were either born without a limb or have lost limbs due to trauma, disease or military service. We also have athletes with spinal cord injuries that compete in racing wheelchairs.  (Chicago/National)
Dare2tri Paratriathlon club was launched in January 2011. The club serves youth, adults and injured service members who have a physical disability such as amputation, spinal cord injury, stroke, Spina Bifida, Cerebral Palsy as well as those with visual impairments or blindness. We serve athletes of all ability levels from beginner to elite.

Established in 1997, the Challenged Athletes Foundation recognizes the athletic greatness inherent in all people with physical challenges and supports their athletic endeavors by providing unparalleled sports opportunities that lead to success in sports — and in life.

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