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Newcastle star Lauren Parker back to pet distance

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Newcastle triathlete Lauren Parker is returning to where her heart lies for her first race since her agonising near-miss at the Tokyo Paralympics.

The 32-year-old will race at the Ironman 70.3 world championship on Saturday in Utah, the second time she has raced over the distance since she started racing para-triathlon.

But, 70.3, or half-Ironman, and Ironman triathlons were Parker’s bread and butter before the 2017 bike accident that left her a paraplegic.

“I’m pumped to get back to Ironman 70.3 distance, Ironman is where my heart is,” she said.

Parker placed second in her age group at the 2015 Hawaiian Ironman world championship, triathlon’s most famous race.

Utah will be her first race since the Tokyo Paralympics, where she looked set for a gold medal in her triathlon category.

However, after leading the race for more than an hour, Parker was overtaken by American Kendell Gretsch in the final metres and was pipped by less than a second.

Australian team chef de mission Kate McLoughlin said it was her most heartbreaking moment of the Paralympics.

Parker confesses to “mixed emotions” about the silver-medal result, saying she was caught behind a competitor she was lapping in the last kilometre of the race and that cost her dearly.

“I feel like it’s a big disappointment, the whole race for me, I had it won,” she said.

“But, when I think about it, I’ve had to overcome so many things over the past four years since my accident, I never would have believed I could be on the start line of the Paralympics.

“I had a chat with Kendall the other day and she’s a lovely girl, but we both said we’re going for that gold medal in Paris.”

More than 3000 triathletes will compete at the 70.3 worlds – a 1.9km swim, 90km cycle and 21.1km run.

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