Allysa Seely, Hailey Danz Repeat Paralympic Gold and Silver Medals Five Years Later in Tokyo

by USA Triathlon


TOKYO — Two-time Paralympians Allysa Seely (Glendale, Ariz.) and Hailey Danz (Colorado Springs, Colo.) earned gold and silver, respectively, in the women’s PTS2 category to secure the first women’s paratriathlon medals awarded at the Paralympic Games Tokyo 2020.

Seely and Danz were part of a historic U.S. sweep of their category five years earlier during the sport’s Paralympic debut at the Paralympic Games Rio 2016 and are now the first multi-medalist paratriathletes in Games history. Seely and Danz finished in the same order in Rio, where teammate Melissa Stockwell (Colorado Springs, Colo.) took the bronze. With the same trio qualifying for the Tokyo Games, Stockwell finished fifth on Saturday morning in Tokyo.

All three athletes are members of the Toyota U.S. Paratriathlon Resident Team in Colorado Springs, Colorado.

Opening the fourth day of competition, Seely, 32, is the first 2016 U.S. Paralympic champion of any sport to successfully defend her title.

“I’m just so incredibly grateful for the opportunity to be here and make a dream come true,” Seely said. “I said, the day of Rio, that a gold here was the goal. There’s been so many ups and downs, and to be able to actually pull off that goal has been absolutely incredible. … Every other woman on the course has upped the level of competition in the last five years, making this race so much more difficult than it was.

“I really just want to dedicate this win to everybody who have ever been told they can’t, especially to the Afghani Paralympians whose dreams were not able to be fulfilled today.”

She won in a time of 1 hour, 14 minutes and 3 seconds, followed by Danz in 1:14:58 and Italy’s Veronica Yoko Plebani in 1:15:55 for her first medal at a major international competition.

Athletes competed at Odaiba Marine Park with temperatures in the low-80s Fahrenheit and the humidity reaching 80%.

Japan’s Yukako Hata was off to a strong start in her home country, finishing first out of the water in the 750-meter swim in 11 minutes, 55 seconds. Stockwell was next out of the water, 12 seconds back, with Plebani third at 12:29, followed closely by Danz. Seely was fifth in 12:47 but had a quick transition to enter the bike in third.

Tokyo was the third Paralympic Games for Stockwell, a 41-year-old mother of two and U.S. Army veteran who competed in swimming in 2008, just four years after becoming the first female American soldier to lose a limb in active combat while serving in Iraq.

“I am thrilled to be here,” Stockwell said through tears. “To run down that finish line, I’m just so proud. We made it through, we’re here. I’m so proud of my teammates, I’m so proud of my competitors. I’m just really proud.”

The 30-year-old Danz took advantage of her best discipline and made her way to the front on the first of four laps on the 20-kilometer bike. She led Plebani by 11 seconds, with Seely 3 seconds back. Great Britain’s Fran Brown caught Danz on the third lap, but Danz ultimately finished the leg four seconds ahead of Brown.

Brown once again caught Danz during the start of the four-lap, 5-kilometer run but the Brit struggled and slowed to a walk, allowing Danz, Plebani and Seely to pass her.

Seely was in fourth after the second transition — 1 minute, 26 seconds from Danz — but made her move on the run, quickly decreasing her deficit to 1 minute, 4 seconds, then 37 seconds, then just 6 seconds with one lap left. She passed Danz in the final kilometer and did not slow down, winning the race by 55 seconds.

Her victory was made all the more impressive by the series of health challenges Seely faced in 2020, which included multiple infections in her leg starting in January and an eventual diagnosis of endocarditis, an inflammation of the heart’s inner lining, and a blood clot in her heart. She was unable to train for the majority of the year and spent a few months in and out of hospitals.

Seely’s resume now includes two Paralympic gold medals, three World Championship titles, 12 World Paratriathlon Event gold medals and an ESPY for Best Female Athlete with a Disability after going undefeated in the 2018 season.

Danz’s two Paralympic silver medals are in addition to her 2013 World title, six total World Championships medals and 2019 Tokyo ITU Paratriathlon World Cup victory.

“Wow, so many emotions,” Danz said. “Paralympics are an incredibly emotional affair — good, bad, ugly — and so is the whole journey. I came here hoping to improve upon my silver medal; I wasn’t able to do that today, but a silver here is still pretty incredible and I’m very proud of the effort.

“We have elevated the bar so much in the past five years and being able to have Allysa and Melissa to train with had a lot to do with elevating that bar. We finished 10 minutes faster today than we did in Rio, which I think is pretty incredible for the sport.”

The men’s PTS4 race kicked off the two days of paratriathlon competition in Tokyo, starting a minute prior to the women’s PTS2.

Three-time World champion Alexis Hanquinquant of France, who led the race from start to finish, won his first Paralympic title in 59 minutes, 58 seconds. Japan’s Hideki Uda finished in 1:03:45 for the silver medal after placing fourth at three consecutive World Championships.

Spaniard Alejandro Sanchez Palomero took bronze in 1:04.24 for his first Paralympic medal in paratriathlon; he competed in swimming at the 2008 and 2012 Games, earning bronze in the 100-meter breaststroke SB8 in Beijing.

Americans Eric McElvenny (Pittsburgh, Pa.) and Jamie Brown (Oceanside, Calif.) made their Paralympic debuts in the race.

The 38-year-old McElvenny, a U.S. Marine Corps veteran, placed sixth in a time of 1:06:28. McElvenny had his right leg amputated after stepping on an IED while serving in Afghanistan. He earned his first World Triathlon Para Series medal earlier this year, taking bronze in Leeds, England.

“I’m feeling tired, but it was awesome,” McElvenny said. “Huge emotions, big event. I got to represent the USA and not only race and leave everything out there, but cheer for our teammates.”

Brown, the oldest in the race at 42, was ninth in 1:09:12. He earned bronze at the World Championships in both 2012 and 2017 and is a six-time World Paratriathlon Event medalist.

“On one hand, I didn’t perform the way I wanted to today or the way my training’s been going,” Brown said, “But a few seconds later, I got to watch my teammates finish first and second, so it’s definitely been an awesome day for the whole team so far.”


Paralympic Games Tokyo 2020

750m swim, 20k bike, 5k run


Women’s PTS2 Complete Results

1. Allysa Seely (Glendale, Ariz.), 1:14:03

2. Hailey Danz (Colorado Springs, Colo.), 1:14:58

3. Veronica Yoko Plebani (ITA), 1:55:15


U.S. Finishers

1. Allysa Seely (Glendale, Ariz.), 1:14:03

2. Hailey Danz (Colorado Springs, Colo.), 1:14:58

5. Melissa Stockwell (Colorado Springs, Colo.), 1:21:25


Men’s PTS4 Complete Results

1. Alexis Hanquinquant (FRA), 59:58

2. Hideki Uda (JPN), 1:04:35

3. Alejandro Sanchez Palomero (ESP), 1:04:24


U.S. Finishers

6. Eric McElvenny (Pittsburgh, Pa.), 1:06:28

9. Jamie Brown (Oceanside ,Calif.), 1:09:12


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