Gold Coast 2018: Six events to follow

The main storylines ahead of the World Triathlon Grand Final

Two women holding the US flag waiting for their teammate to cross the finish line Allysa Seely and Hailey Danz wait for teammate Melissa Stockwell at the finish line at Rio 2016. USA swept the women's PT2 podium © • Olympis Information Services

The World Triathlon Grand Final is underway in Gold Coast, Australia, with the Para Triathlon World Championships portion beginning Saturday (15 September).

Here are six storylines to know before competition begins:

1. Any man’s race

The men’s PTS5 is arguably the most competitive and unpredictable category. Reigning Paralympic champion Martin Schulz from Germany and Canada’s defending world champion Stefan Daniel have a rivalry history. But Great Britain’s George Peasgood has wedged his name in between with the spectacular season he has had that includes three victories. But one in Gold Coast would be his first major gold.

2. Battle of the best

The women’s equivalent appears a two-way battle between Great Britain’s Lauren Steadman and the USA’ Grace Norman.

Norman had a perfect Paralympic race at Rio 2016 to win gold ahead of favourite Steadman, and repeated that performance at the 2017 World Championships.

The two met for the first time since the 2017 Worlds at the World Para Triathlon Series in Yokohama, Japan, in May. Steadman got her revenge over Norman with a two-minute victory. She has not lost a race this season — so far.

3. Parker vs Tsuchida

Another interesting match-up to follow is in the women’s PTWC, which was added to the Paralympic programme for Tokyo 2020.

It is perfect for Japan’s Wakako Tsuchida, who already excelled in wheelchair racing and ice sledge racing at the Paralympic Games, and has a chance to star at her home Paralympics.

On the other side is Para triathlon newcomer Lauren Parker who is in strong position to medal at her home Championships.

However, she is not completely new. Parker was an able-bodied triathlete who suffered a devastating accident during a ride before the Ironman Australia Triathlon in April 2017. That clearly has not stopped her from racing.

4. Can Kelly keep it up?

Australia’s Katie Kelly has dominated the women’s vision impaired category (PTVI) since 2015. She won the 2015 and 2017 Worlds titles with then-guide and Olympic silver medallist Michellie Jones.

However, this season is different as she is racing with a new guide. So far, so good. Kelly has two World Cup victories but all will be tested on her home Worlds.

5. Another USA sweep?

Allysa Seely and Hailey Danz waited at the finish line to cheer on Melissa Stockwell. It was an unforgettable image in the sport’s Paralympic debut at Rio 2016, as the USA swept the women’s then-PT2 podium.

Renamed to PTS4, all three are back. But one woman could spoil their podium celebration: Finland’s reigning world champion Liisa Lilja.

6. Pure power Plat

Last year, the Netherlands’ Jetze Plat won titles in road cycling, an Ironman and triathlon. He could repeat that this year after winning two gold medals at the 2018 Para Cycling Road World Championships in Italy. Only difference is he did not compete in an Ironman this year.