SARASOTA, Fla. — Six months later, Grace Norman wins again.
March 11 marked exactly six months to the day that Norman won triathlon gold at the Paralympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
In Grace’s own words, “I celebrated that day by winning gold at the Continental Championships!”
The International Triathlon Union-sanctioned CAMTRI Para Triathlon American Championships were held this past weekend in Nathan Benderson Park.
Athletes from Canada, Mexico, Brazil, Argentina, Venezuela, Columbia and the United States gathered to compete for the opening points for the start of the ITU season which will eventually culminate with the World Championships in September.
This particular event also kicked off the start of a new classification system designed to better represent the different disability groups, and increase athletes in each group. All athletes were reclassified at the event. Norman, a freshman distance runner for Cedarville University, was classed as a PTS5 which is considered the most competitive class in the Paralympic Triathlon.
According to the ITU, the new PTS5 category “includes athletes with comparable activity limitation and an impairment of, but not limited to, limb deficiency, hypertonia, ataxia and or athetosis, impaired muscle power or range of movement. Common health conditions could include a below knee amputee, below elbow amputee and mild cerebral palsy. In both bike and run segments, the athlete may use approved prosthesis or other supportive devices.”
The race started with a staggered time delay start of men, then women from two separate classes. Norman, a below knee amputee, went off in the fourth group for the swim. Throughout the 750-meter swim, Norman continued to catch group after group of swimmers until she had made up the entire time delay and finished with the first wave of competitors in 11 minutes, 41 seconds.
She came out of the water as the lead female athlete and with a 3-minute margin over her competitors. After the quickest transition in her class to the bike, Norman continued that domination for the bike and run portions and won the Championship in 1:06.13, by 3 minutes and 31 seconds over runner-up Kamylle Frenette of Canada. Ana Raquel of Brazil finished third.
Norman’s ITU triathlon season will include races in Yokohoma, Japan and Edmonton, Canada, where she will continue to gain points toward qualification for the World Championships to be contested September 12-14 at Rotterdam, in The Netherlands.