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Parker eyes off two races in two states in two days

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Newcastle’s Tokyo paratriathlon silver medallist Lauren Parker doesn’t do things in half measures.

And, this weekend, she’s flying 1,200 kilometres for two races, in two states in two days.

Unsurprisingly, Parker, fresh from her impressive display to win the PTWC race at the Devonport Oceania Cup in Tasmania a fortnight ago, is up for it.

The proud Novacastrian arrived onto Queensland’s Sunshine Coast on Tuesday to prepare to race the Mooloolaba Sprint Triathlon (700m swim, 20km bike, 5km run) on Saturday morning before flying from Brisbane to Newcastle later that evening.

Parker will then line up in the Oceania Triathlon Para Championships (700m swim, 20km bike, 5km run) on Newcastle’s Stockton Beach on Sunday morning, before returning to Mooloolaba at noon to prepare for a two-day drive back home to the Hunter.

The latest update from race organisers in Newcastle is that because of the recent flooding, the swim section has been transferred from the open water to the Stockton Olympic Pool, which is situated on the race course.

“I had planned on coming up to do the Mooloolaba Sprint and then follow up the Olympic Distance on the Sunday but when the Stockton race got postponed to the same weekend I thought ‘I could still fit two races in,” said Parker, who thrives on a challenge.

“So, I’m doing Mooloolaba on Saturday and flying home to race Newcastle on Sunday and, with the swim in the pool, it saves the race from becoming a duathlon, which is great.

“There’s nothing better than getting race practice when there’s not many races going around, so I thought I’d make the most of it.

“I worked out the travel and it was certainly do-able.

“I’m looking forward to the challenge and particularly coming back for a home race in the best place in the world, Newcastle.

“It is so cool to have a Paratriathlon event in the Hunter and to have my own home crowd there who have been supporting me for the past four years – I’m just super proud.

“It’s where I did my first triathlon when I was 19 years old as an able-bodied athlete, which is all part of a big triathlon festival in Newcastle every year and I always look forward to it.”

Parker will be joined in Newcastle by the cream of Australia’s spirited paratriathletes, who will welcome a new classified athlete into their ranks with Melbourne’s 18-year-old PTS5 athlete Jack Howell to make his debut.

Born with Symbrachydactyly (a congenital absence of the left hand) the boy from Berwick, south-east of Melbourne, has competed in high level sports since age 10.

He was the youngest paratriathlete to ever be categorised as an elite athlete by the Australian Institute of Sport and Triathlon Australia, who now has his sights on the Paralympics.

Howell is an impressive young athlete, who finished 20th in a field of 37 in the recent Oceania Triathlon Junior Cup, Devonport, against able-bodied athletes.

He was officially classified by World Triathlon this week and the Victorian teenager will now embark on an exciting career in paratriathlon, with a pathway to Paris in 2024.

The men’s field will include Paralympians Jono Goerlach (with guide Dave Mainwaring) and Sam Harding (with guide Luke Harvey) and the women’s line up Caroline Baird (with guide Annabel White) and Erica Burleigh (with guide Rosie Nash).

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