For the Netherlands five elite athletes will start in the Paratriathlon Championships in Rotterdam. For home crowd Jetze Plat and Geert Schipper are considered as serious medal contenders.
At the ITU Paratriathlon World Championships hundred athletes will compete for ten world titles. In each of the five categories (PT1-PT5) ten men and ten women have qualified, with the ITU Paratriathlon Points List as criterium. Seven Dutch triathletes have made the qualying standards. Saskia van den Ouden (injured) and Mirjam de Koning (stopped) however, decided not to start in Rotterdam.
The five triathletes and their two pilotes who will be at the start on Sunday, have thouroughly prepared for the World Championships on home soil. In the last weeks a number of course inspections was done in the centre of Rotterdam. Especially with the knowlegde of the bike and handbike course the Dutch team expects to make a difference.
Jetze Plat (NED)
Jetze Plat is one of the favorites for the world title in the PT1. The athelete from Amsterdam had a strong start of the season, becoming European Champion. However, the best is yet to come for Plat. He has focussed his entire year on the World Championships in the Netherlands and the Paralympic Games in Rio de Janeiro. In Rio Plat will also start compete in handbiking, his strongest discipline.
Schipper is the number 4 on the ITU Paratriathlon Points List in the PT1. In May he finished second at the European Championships in Lissabon, behind his countryman Jetze Plat. Last year Schipper just missed out on the medals in Chicago, but on home soil he will give all he's got to reach te podium and maybe more. Last month Schipper did a course inspection from up high, by abseiling from Rotterdam's most famous building, the Euromast.
Sjaak van den Berg
The PT4 is one of the strongest classes with athletes who compete in elte classes with nondisabled athletes as well. Van den Berg can be considered as an outsider. Especially in swimming, his strongest sport, he is among the best. Over the last three years Van den Berg has been focussing on qualification for the Paralympic Games, but Rio proved just without reach. In Rotterdam Van den Berg will get his stage to show that he deserves his place among the world's elite on the paratriathlon.
Daniël de Knegt
Daniël Knegt will race his first World Championships in paratriathlon. With his guide Koen de Leeuw he will start in the PT5 class for athletes with a visual impairment. Four years ago Knegt was close on assuring participation for the Paralympic Games in judo, but an injury prevented him from qualifying for London 2012. After a short career in rowing, Knegt decided to focus on the triathlon. The former soldier seeks to challenge himself on multiple levels. Last year Knegt figured in a Dutch television show, climbing the Kilimanjaro with a group of five people visual impairments. Earlier this year he became sixth in the European Championships in Portugal.
Joleen Hakker already became world champion once. In 2000 she won the world championships tandem timetrial in Quebec, Canada. Hakker still considers this achievement as her most memorable sporting moment. That could well change this summer. With her guide Linda van Vliet she has some special weeks ahead. In Rotterdam Hakker hopes to improve on her fourth place last year at the world championships in Chicago. In September Hakker and Van Vliet will be going to the Paralympic Games in Rio.