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March Race to Feature First Paratriathlon Prize Purse in ITU History

Paratriathletes will compete in Sarasota for their share of $60,000.

USA Triathlon announced yesterday the first professional prize purse for paratriathletes in ITU history. 

Podium finishers at the Sarasota-Bradenton ITU Paratriathlon World Cup in Florida on March 22 will receive prize money equal to the elite World Cup race taking place that same day. However, the individual winners won’t be taking home quite as much as the elite winners, because the $60,000 will be spread across the six categories. The winner in each of six paratriathlon categories will receive $2,143. Runners-up will receive $1,286, and third-place finishers will receive $857. Sighted guides competing alongside athletes with visual impairments will also receive equivalent winnings. The funding comes from USAT corporate partners, as well as private donors and marks the first elite paratriathlon prize purse in ITU history.

This is the first time an ITU race will include prize money, but it isn’t the first time paratriathletes have been given the opportunity to take home prize money. Last year USAT, along with Toyota and the Challenged Athletes Foundation, combined to offer $36,750 at the 2019 Toyota USA Paratriathlon National Championships in Long Beach, California.

According to a number of paratriathletes, a chance to earn prize money is huge for them, given the challenge of  balancing training and travel demands with the need to earn a living. This can be particularly tricky for paratriathletes, who often have fewer opportunities for prize money or sponsorship funding. There are grants from organizations like the Challenged Athletes Foundation, Dare2Tri, and USA Triathlon, but those are mostly aimed at helping athletes get started, and aren’t designed for athletes to live off of. USA Triathlon will also reimburse some travel if a paratriathlete performs well at an ITU event. 

American Melissa Stockwell, who has competed in the Paralympics both in swimming and in triathlon and is working toward qualifying for the 2020 Tokyo Paralympics, says this is a huge step in the right direction.

“None of us are making a living off of our sport,” she says. “It’s impossible to do. USAT taking the step to have a prize purse for the very first time at the World Cup is huge. I’m glad that the USA is leading the way, and hopefully some other countries can step up and do the same.”

“Many elite paratriathletes, both in the US and internationally, sacrifice financial stability to chase world class performances and compete around the globe as professionals,” said USAT CEO Rocky Harris in the press release. “USA Triathlon, with the support of the ITU and the US Olympic & Paralympic Committee, is committed to recognizing their achievements and we are thrilled to take this important step to continue to advance paratriathlon in the United States and around the world.”

The Sarasota-Bradenton ITU Triathlon Paratriathlon World Cup will feature athletes from all over the world as they work toward qualification for the Tokyo Olympics. Paratriathlon was added to the Paralympic lineup at the 2016 Rio Games, making Tokyo the second opportunity for triathletes to compete at the Paralympic level. This summer, the paratriathlon will take place on Aug. 29 and 30, with the PTS4 (moderate impairments) men, PTS2 (severe impairments) women and PTVI (blind) men and women in action in Odaiba Park on the first day, followed by the men and women’s PTWC (wheelchair users) and PTS5 (mild impairments) races.