Blind triathlete Patricia Walsh competes at World Paratriathlon event in Rio de Janeiro Saturday

Patricia Walsh, poses for a portrait before swim practice held at the Lost Creek Country Club pool in Austin in 2012.  Rodolfo Gonzalez/American-Statesman
Patricia Walsh, poses for a portrait before swim practice held at the Lost Creek Country Club pool in Austin in 2012. Rodolfo Gonzalez/American-Statesman

Austin paratriathlete Patricia Walsh will compete Saturday in the 2015 ITU World Paratriathlon event in Rio de Janeiro.

Patricia Walsh, left, and guide, Angie Balentine, right, celebrate Walsh's win during US Paratriathlon National Championship and Texas Captial Triathlon held in Austin on May 28, 2012.  Rodolfo Gonzalez/American-Statesman
Patricia Walsh, left, and guide, Angie Balentine, right, celebrate Walsh’s win during US Paratriathlon National Championship and Texas Captial Triathlon held in Austin on May 28, 2012. Rodolfo Gonzalez/American-Statesman

Walsh, who is blind, will swim 750 meters, bike 20 kilometers and run 5 kilometers on the proposed course for next year’s Paralympic Games. She’ll compete alongside a guide, who will lead her through the water, steer her bike and run at her side.

Races will take place throughout the day Saturday at Copacabana Beach. No live broadcast will be available, but live timing updates will be posted here, and U.S.-specific live updates will be shared on Twitter.

The points season just opened for paratriathletes, and the event is the second opportunity for paratriathletes to earn points toward the Paralympic qualification process. Only one U.S. paratriathlete per sport class will be eligible to qualify for the U.S. Paralympic Triathlon Team in Rio.

The sport will make its Paralympic Games debut next September in Rio de Janeiro, and athletes racing this weekend will have the advantage of testing the course as they compete for qualification points and a potential spot on the U.S. Paralympic Triathlon Team.

Walsh is among 10 American paratriathletes who will be racing in Saturday’s test event. She is a two-time ITU World Championships medalist and two-time World Paratriathlon Event champion. She competes in the women’s PT5 (visually impaired) sport class.

For more information about each sport class and world rankings go here.

Author: Pam LeBlanc

Pam LeBlanc writes about fitness and travel for the Austin American-Statesman. She has worked for the Statesman since 1998 and written her weekly fitness column, Fit City, since 2004.

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