Rio 2016 dream moves step closer for Tri-Anglia ace Iain Dawson

Paratriathlete, Iain Dawson, right, with his guide, Matt Ellis, after training at the Whitlingham Outdoor Education Centre. Picture: Denise Bradley Paratriathlete, Iain Dawson, right, with his guide, Matt Ellis, after training at the Whitlingham Outdoor Education Centre. Picture: Denise Bradley

Tuesday, May 13, 2014
10:30 AM

The prospect of representing Team GB at the Rio 2016 Paralympics has moved a step closer for New Buckenham athlete Iain Dawson.

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Iain Dawson and Matt Ellis in action at the 2010 GE Edinburgh ITU Duathlon World Championships.Iain Dawson and Matt Ellis in action at the 2010 GE Edinburgh ITU Duathlon World Championships.

The 37-year-old has had his place in British Triathlon’s paratriathlon World-Class Performance Squad confirmed, putting him well on course for Brazil in 2016.

Paratriathlon will make its debut at the Paralympics in two years and Dawson, the Tri6b class world champion in 2010 and 2012, is set to play a part in his sport’s eagerly-awaited debut.

Dawson, a Tri-Anglia Triathlon Club member, is a visually impaired athlete with less than 10pc vision due to a rare genetic eye condition known as X-Linked Juvenile Retinoschisis.

He also competed in cycling at the 2000 Paralympics in Australia, finishing fifth in the men’s 1km tandem time-trial, ninth in the tandem pursuit and 12th in the tandem road race.

Trust is ‘integral’ to success

Iain Dawson and Matt Ellis had previously competed together up until 2010, when Ellis pursued individual events including Ironman competitions.

After working with a number of different guides, the pair were reunited just three weeks before the World Triathlon Grand Final in London in September, in which Dawson finished third in the Tri6b category thanks to the fastest time in the bike section.

“Matt is a good athlete, he’s local, he’s good to be around, so it’s quite easy for us to race together,” Dawson added.

“People say we place you with such and such who you don’t know but you do need to trust your guide 100 per cent. For the swim you are basically tethered to each other because I can’t navigate open water courses, particularly the sea.

“So someone guiding you is really important and trusting them allows you to relax and focus on the actual racing.

“In the tandem cycle we get up to speeds of 40 to 50 miles per hour so you do want to trust your guide and not worry. “Occasionally you do go astray but it’s not the guides fault, it’s shared responsibility, so trust is an integral part in any paratri relationship.”

Now he is putting all his focus on the paratri at Rio 2016, saying: “Everybody is geared up around Rio 2016. I’ve got other goals like the Europeans and Worlds, but Rio 2016 is the big focus.

“At this point I wouldn’t be continuing if I wasn’t in with a chance of getting to Rio and winning a medal. I’ve won a few World and European medals so there’s nothing really left for me and it will be good to go back to the Paralympics after competing in the cycling in Sydney 2000.”

Dawson, an NHS Community Health and Care physiotherapist who works with people with learning difficulties, is accompanied through his swim, bike and run by his guide, Tri-Anglia club-mate Matt Ellis.

The pair will be flying to Japan this week to compete in the international season opener, the ITU World Triathlon Yokohama, on Saturday.

“I guess my main priority will be to finish in the top six and get European Championships qualification points,” Dawson said of the world series event.

“It’s a bit of a no risk approach but obviously I want to try and finish as high up in the field as I can, but the priority is a top-six finish.”

Do you know someone local aiming for international sporting glory? Contact sports reporter David Freezer on 01603 772418 or david.freezer@archant.co.uk

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