Claire Cashmore successfully defended her world championship crown, with Dave Ellis and guide Luke Pollard also coming out on top in their classification as part of a four medal sweep for the British contingent in Abu Dhabi
The World Triathlon Para Championships in Abu Dhabi featured a 750m swim in the Yas Island Marina which was followed by a 20km cycle on the iconic racing circuit, before a 5km run brought the athletes to the finish.
Cashmore, who won bronze at the Paralympic Games in Tokyo, put in a strong display across all three disciplines to defend her women’s PTSS5 world championship title.
The Brit came out of the swim in second place before nailing her first transition to come out onto the bike in the lead and then kept her position through to the run and taking the tape.
Cashmore had the better of Grace Norman (USA) who took silver in Tokyo, crossing the line nearly a minute before the American.
On her win, Cashmore commented: “It feels pretty good to have retained my title. I’ve held on to the title for the longest without having to race in 2020 so to be World Champion again in 2021 is pretty awesome. It’s been a bit of whirlwind of a year so just the perfect way to finish it off. I knew I had it in me, but I suppose I didn’t have as much coming in after Tokyo. I didn’t feel quite as on it but actually out there I felt amazing. I just felt like everything clicked into place. The course was so much fun. To race on the formula 1 track was so fast and the perfect course for me. It wasn’t too technical, whizzing round that course was phenomenal.”
Also claiming gold was Ellis and his guide Pollard in the men’s PTVI race, with the pair taking the top step having won silver at the last championships in 2019. This was Pollard’s first world championships having also guided Ellis during the Paralympic Games in Tokyo this year.
Having suffered a mechanical DNF in Japan, the pair were able to showcase their class in Abu Dhabi to finish off 2021 with gold. It was the bike leg that the pair excelled to catch the leader and then extend their lead.
They crossed the finish line in 00:55.08 and secure their first world championship gold together as a pair.
“It feels awesome to be World Champion again and it’s Luke’s first time as a World Champion guide,” Ellis said. “It was a really good race and a great day which we really enjoyed and it’s great to be back on top again. We had a bit of bad luck this year, so it was good to finish it how we were meant to,” Pollard said. “It’s a really good course. The surface is really good, the bike is nice and quick and it’s nice to see everyone else on the run so you can pace your run well.”
Making his world championship debut in the same race as Ellis and Pollard was Oscar Kelly and his guide Charlie Harding. The young Brits backed up strong performances earlier in the year and overcame a crash on the bike to finish sixth.
Having played down her chances of success in the build-up, Fran Brown came away with silver in the women’s PTS2 championship. The Londoner crossed the line in 01:18:17 with a healthy gap back to third place.
With her race being the last one to start, Brown managed the conditions well to come away with a world championship silver medal to add to the European championship gold she won in Valencia in September.
After the race, Brown said: “It was really good out there today. I had a really good swim and led out of the swim which I don’t think I have done before. That was probably my best swim yet. The bike was really good fun and I love biking and this course is incredible and I played the run sensibly. I was really happy, and I just wanted to finish, so to come second is good to cap off the season.”
Alison Peasgood and guide Brooke Gillies took bronze in the women’s PTVI classification, with the Scottish pair swim, bike, running their way to end of season success.
Having finished fourth in Tokyo alongside guide Nikki Bartlett, Peasgood was able to make the jump onto the podium and take home a world championship medal alongside Gillies having crashed together at the European championships earlier in the year.
“Being bronze medallists at the Worlds sounds amazing,” Peasgood said. “After the season I’ve had with lots of ups and downs, we crashed at Europeans in Brooke’s first race so to have the confidence on that bike course today is a massive testament to her. I couldn’t be happier and prouder of her. Alison wasn’t 100% but she absolutely nailed it. She has a torn/sore calf on the run, but we managed to still do it,” Brooke said. “Especially after the last race, we’re just so proud to get to the end so we’re so happy.”
Katie Crowhurst and her guide Grace France were another pair making their world championship debut as they finished sixth in the women’s PTVI race. This is only the second international event that Crowhurst has raced in, with France guiding her to world cup silver in the week before Abu Dhabi.
Two Brits competed in the men’s PTS4 category in the UAE, with Michael Taylor crossing the line in fifth and Finley Jakes finishing ninth as both athletes made their world championship debuts.