Inspirational Newcastle triathlete returns to racing after freak training accident

RACE RETURN: Newcastle triathlete Lauren Parker in action on Sunday during the Paratriathlon Continental Championships in St Kilda. Picture: Delly Carr, Triathlon Australia
RACE RETURN: Newcastle triathlete Lauren Parker in action on Sunday during the Paratriathlon Continental Championships in St Kilda. Picture: Delly Carr, Triathlon Australia

Poor conditions caused the cancellation of the swim leg but Lauren Parker could not have been happier to be racing again on Sunday, nine months after a life-changing accident left her paralysed from the waist down.

Parker’s efforts in the Paratriathlon Continental Championships in St Kilda could be enough to earn her a place in the Australian team for the Commonwealth Games in April.

The course was changed on the morning of the race to instead comprise 2.5 kilometres in the racing wheelchair followed by a 20km hand cycle then concluding with another 5km in the racing chair.

The Newcastle 29-year-old officially finished second in her race but there was some confusion over the changed course with the rest of the field doing four kilometres less of the hand cycle.

Parker’s times were enough to put her in the frame for Commonwealth Games selection with two possible spots available but the team will not be announced until next month.

“Aside from the drama that went on I had a great race and was so excited to finish,” Parker said.

“I definitely need to work on the racing chair a lot to get big improvements in that area but I know my swim is there and my hand cycle is there. It’s exciting.”

If she does earn selection, Parker will line up for her country at the Gold Coast games 12 months after a freak cycling accident turned her world upside-down.

“It was so good to be back racing,” she said. “I was out on the hand cycle and just loving it.

“I was loving the feeling of racing again and I had a huge support crew down here, it was amazing. I wouldn’t have been here without the team behind me. I felt really special and really good that everyone was there at the end cheering me.”

Parker has only been training on hand cycle and in a racing wheelchair for the past six weeks.