Paratriathlon is a sport for people with physical or visual impairment. Races have three legs – swim, cycle and run. Depending on their classification, athletes may compete in the cycle leg on a single bicycle, tricycle, recumbent handcycle or tandem bicycle. Athletes who have no effective use of their legs use a racing wheelchair on the run leg. Athletes with visual impairment are accompanied on all legs by a guide of the same sex.
As with the Olympic side of the sport, Paratriathlon grew from the exploits of pioneers who competed in ironman events, including the famous Hawaiian Ironman. In 1995, Australian John Maclean became the first person with paraplegia to complete the Hawaiian Ironman. Now, people with disabilities participate in all forms of triathlon, from full ironman to mini and taster events.
Paratriathlon is overseen internationally by the International Triathlon Union, and Paratriathlon events have been part of the ITU World Championships since 1997. Events are conducted over the triathlon sprint distance – 750m swim, 20km cycle and 5km run. The 2010 announcement that Paratriathlon would debut at the Rio Paralympics saw the number of competitors at world championships increase significantly and the number of ITU sanctioned international events grow from 6 in 2009 to 29 in 2015.
Australians have been at the forefront of the growth of Paratriathlon. Triathlon Australia oversees the sport in Australia and integrates Paratriathlon within its development pathways and high performance plan.