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Parker’s never-before, 14-hour mission for the ages

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Australian para-triathlete Lauren Parker has created history at the Ironman World Championships in Utah. It’s just the latest feat in one of Australian sport’s most inspirational stories.

In April 2017, Lauren Parker was hard at training for the Ironman World Championship in Hawaii, fiercely peddling down the Pacific Highway with circuit partner Brad Fernley. 

Going 40km/hr, suddenly both tyres blew, propelling the Australian representative into a guard rail. Parker was left a paraplegic. 

Just months later, though, Parker was a bronze medalist. The Novocastrian produced one of the most inspirational stories from the 2018 Commonwealth Games at the Gold Coast.

But a podium finish in the women’s PTWC triathlon would just be the start of an incredible four-year cycle.

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Now 33, Parker is a two-time world champion and brought back silver from Tokyo. But the feats keep coming.

She has just become the first Australian woman to finish in the handcycle division at the Ironman World Championships at St George, Utah. Only two other women have ever completed the brutal course; 3.8km swim, 180km cycle and 42.2km marathon.

And no one has done it as fast, with Parker crossing the line just after the 14 hour mark.

“It was a really tough day out, one of the toughest I’ve ever had in my life,” Parker told the media post-race in Utah.

Since the Ironman World Championships began in 1978, they have traditionally been held in Kona, Hawaii. However, the COVID-19 pandemic forced the 2021 event to be postponed and moved to the mainland.

So returning to Hawaii will carry significant weight for Parker, given what happened in training back in 2017. And the countdown is on, with the World Championships returning to Kona in October, the first time since 2019.

“That’s what I’ve been waiting for since my accident,” Parker said after her race in Utah.

“That’s where my heart is.

“I did it twice as an able-bodied athlete and I can’t wait to get back there as a para-athlete and see what I can do.”

Joel Martelli
Joel Martelli
The only thing that Joel Martelli loves more than football (seriously, we wouldn't be surprised if he has a Wollongong Wolves tattoo) is writing about all things sports. With a Bachelor of Communications and Media Studies Degree specialising in Journalism, he spends his days uncovering breaking athlete news stories and diving deep into play-by-play strategies. We're glad that he's put his passion to the pages of Only Sports as one of our dedicated sports writers.

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