USA Triathlon Announces 2021 Toyota U.S. Paratriathlon National Team Roster
by USA Triathlon
COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. — USA Triathlon today announced the 16 members of the 2021 Toyota U.S. Paratriathlon National Team, the group of athletes who will represent the U.S. at the highest levels of elite paratriathlon competition during the 2021 season.
The talented group, which includes four Paralympic triathlon medalists and six world champions, will compete at World Triathlon Para Cup events, World Triathlon Para Series events and the World Triathlon Para Championships throughout 2021. Select athletes will also represent Team USA at the postponed Paralympic Games Tokyo 2020, which will take place this summer from Aug. 24-Sept. 5.
“USA Triathlon is proud to honor the 16 paratriathletes who will represent us on the world stage this season,” said Amanda Duke Boulet, USA Triathlon Paralympic Program Director. “The 2021 roster includes both veterans of the sport and relative newcomers, but all have the potential to win medals against fierce international competition. Our athletes have adaptability and resilience at their core, and they are eagerly awaiting the opportunity to qualify and compete at the Tokyo Paralympic Games this summer.”
The Toyota U.S. Paratriathlon National Team is supported by Toyota, USA Triathlon’s Exclusive Mobility & Automotive Partner. Toyota has shown unparalleled commitment to the paratriathlon program, serving as the title partner for the Toyota USA Paratriathlon National Championships and in 2019 combining with the Challenged Athletes Foundation and USA Triathlon to offer the first-ever professional prize purse for the event. Toyota also directly sponsors select Team Toyota paratriathletes.
“We’re honored to join USA Triathlon, once again, as title partner of the U.S. Paratriathlon National Team,” said Dedra DeLilli, group manager, Olympic and Paralympic Marketing, Toyota Motor North America. “The elite athletes named to the roster showcase true determination and strength and will continue to inspire all of us as they demonstrate that anything is possible. We look forward to cheering on the Toyota U.S. Paratriathlon National Team throughout the 2021 season and wish them all the success.”
Defending Paralympic champions Grace Norman (Jamestown, Ohio, PTS5) and Allysa Seely (Glendale, Ariz., PTS2) headline the roster. Norman and Seely won gold in their respective categories in paratriathlon’s debut at the Paralympic Games Rio 2016. Both also competed in track & field in Rio, with Norman earning bronze in the 400 meters on the track. The two have a combined five Paratriathlon World Championship titles between them. Seely won the 2019 ESPY Award for Best Female Athlete with a Disability after her undefeated 2018 season, and Norman was nominated for the same award in 2017.
Seely led a U.S. podium sweep in Rio with silver medalist Hailey Danz (Colorado Springs, Colo., PTS2) and bronze medalist Melissa Stockwell (Colorado Springs, Colo., PTS2), a U.S. Army veteran. The trio are currently training as part of the Toyota U.S. Paratriathlon Resident Team Program based at the U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Training Center in Colorado Springs, Colorado, in the lead-up to Tokyo.
Also on the roster is Kendall Gretsch (Downers Grove, Ill., PTWC), a three-time World Paratriathlon champion and Colorado Springs-based resident athlete. In addition to her paratriathlon success, Gretsch is a talented Para Nordic skier, winning two gold medals at the Paralympic Winter Games PyeongChang 2018.
U.S. Army veteran Kelly Elmlinger (San Antonio, Texas, PTS4) is relatively new to the National Team roster, debuted on the elite paratriathlon circuit in 2018. She rose through the ranks quickly, earning four World Cup gold medals before taking silver at the 2019 World Championships.
The roster also features two female athlete-guide pairs in the visually impaired category: Amy Dixon (Encinitas, Calif., PTVI) with guide Kirsten Sass (McKenzie, Tenn.), and Elizabeth Baker (Signal Mountain, Tenn., PTVI) with guide Jillian Elliott (née Petersen; Gig Harbor, Wash.). Dixon, the 2019 national champion, is aiming to make her Paralympic Games debut in Tokyo. Baker is a 2016 U.S. Paralympian who placed fourth at the Rio Games.
Paratriathlon guides are considered full-fledged U.S. National Team members by USA Triathlon, receiving support at the same capacity as the paratriathletes themselves.
On the men’s side, Aaron Scheidies (Seattle, Wash., PTVI) and guide Ben Collins (Seattle, Wash.) are top medal contenders for the Tokyo Games. Scheidies is a seven-time World Paratriathlon champion and has never finished off the podium in a World Triathlon elite paratriathlon race. While his paratriathlon category was not included as a medal event in Rio, he competed at the 2016 Paralympic Games in road cycling.
U.S. Navy veteran Brad Snyder (Baltimore, Md., PTVI) and guide Colin Riley (Cincinnati, Ohio) are also Tokyo hopefuls in the PTVI category. Snyder is a decorated Paralympian in swimming, with five gold medals and two silvers to his name from the London 2012 and Rio 2016 Games. He began competing as an elite paratriathlete in 2018.
Chris Hammer (Salt Lake City, Utah, PTS5) and Jamie Brown (Oceanside, Calif., PTS4) are both vying for international podiums this season with an eye on Tokyo. Hammer is a three-time World Championships bronze medalist and 2012 U.S. Paralympian in track & field. Brown, a member of the Colorado Springs-based resident team, also has three career World Championship bronze medals. He notably took bronze at the 2019 Tokyo ITU Paratriathlon World Cup, which served as the test event for the Tokyo Paralympic Games.
USA Triathlon is promoting its elite athletes in the lead-up to, during and beyond the Tokyo Olympic and Paralympic Games with the launch of its Tokyo United campaign. Tokyo United showcases the resilience, determination and teamwork shown by U.S. Olympians and Paralympians, and the communities surrounding them, on their path to the Games. Tokyo United also refers to the common experience shared by the USA Triathlon family over the last year — from amateur athletes, race directors, coaches and clubs whose racing plans were upended, to U.S. Olympic and Paralympic hopefuls whose dreams were deferred — and the many ways we lifted each other up in hopes of a more promising 2021.
The three-phased campaign begins with United to Tokyo, showcasing each U.S. Olympic and Paralympic triathlon hopeful’s journey from childhood to the biggest stage in sport — along with the family and support systems that helped them along the way. The second phase, United in Tokyo, brings together the entire multisport community and the global Olympic and Paralympic family to support Team USA at the pinnacle of competition, and to revel in the long-awaited Olympic and Paralympic moment. The final phase, United Beyond Tokyo, will celebrate the achievements of the 2020 U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Teams before passing the torch to aspiring triathletes with Olympic and Paralympic dreams for the Paris 2024 and Los Angeles 2028 Games.
Games Selection Procedures
As of February 2021, no U.S. athletes have auto-qualified for the Tokyo U.S. Paralympic Triathlon Team. The selection criteria, qualification criteria and key dates/deadlines are currently under review for revisions based on the postponement of the Tokyo Games and the recent cancelation or postponement of key events on the World Triathlon elite paratriathlon circuit. USA Triathlon’s High Performance staff, the Games Selection Procedures Committees, and the Athletes Advisory Council are reviewing the changes announced by World Triathlon, and ensuring that Games Selection Procedures are prepared to select the best team to Tokyo in a wide variety of circumstances.
The 2021 Americas Triathlon Paratriathlon Championships were originally scheduled for March 15 in Sarasota-Bradenton, Florida, and were deemed an Automatic Selection Event for the 2020 U.S. Paralympic Team. Due to COVID-19 travel restrictions for international competitors, it was recently announced that the event will longer serve as the Americas Triathlon Paratriathlon Championships. Instead, USA Triathlon will host a USA Triathlon Invitational Paratriathlon Race on the same day at the same venue, which will serve as a discretionary selection event toward Games qualification for those who are able and willing to attend. USA Triathlon is looking for an opportunity to host a potential replacement event for the 2021 Americas Triathlon Paratriathlon Championships and is reviewing if the USA Triathlon Invitational Paratriathlon Race or another USA Triathlon-sanctioned event in 2021 may be utilized as an Automatic Selection event. If no Automatic Selection event occurs or is deemed appropriate, then all remaining U.S. Paralympic Team spots will be filled using the 2019 World Triathlon Para Championships or via discretion — taking into account factors such as performances at 2019, 2020, and 2021 World Triathlon and USA Triathlon-sanctioned events, ranking on the World Triathlon Paralympic Qualification list, head-to-head performances, and relevant and verified training data.
2021 World Triathlon Para Season
In a unique start to the season, the first elite World Triathlon Para event of 2021 will be the World Triathlon Para Championships in Milan on May 8. After Worlds, the athletes will head to Yokohama, Japan, on May 15; Leeds, England, from June 5-6; and Montreal, Quebec, on June 23; for World Triathlon Para Series events. To view the complete season calendar, visit triathlon.org/events.
For more information about elite paratriathlon and what it takes to represent Team USA at the Paralympic Games, visit usaparatriathlon.org.
2021 Toyota U.S. Paratriathlon National Team Roster
* Denotes U.S. Paralympian
# Denotes U.S. military veteran
*Elizabeth Baker (Signal Mountain, Tenn.), PTVI
*Jillian Elliott (née Petersen), (Gig Harbor, Wash.), PTVI — Guide
*Hailey Danz (Colorado Springs, Colo.), PTS2
Amy Dixon (Encinitas, Calif.), PTVI
Kirsten Sass (McKenzie, Tenn.), PTVI — Guide
# Kelly Elmlinger (San Antonio, Texas), PTS4
*Kendall Gretsch (Downers Grove, Ill.), PTWC
*Grace Norman (Jamestown, Ohio), PTS5
*Allysa Seely (Glendale, Ariz.), PTS2
*# Melissa Stockwell (Colorado Springs, Colo.), PTS2, Team Toyota athlete
Jamie Brown (Oceanside, Calif), PTS4
*Chris Hammer (Salt Lake City, Utah), PTS5
*Aaron Scheidies (Seattle, Wash.) PTVI
Ben Collins (Seattle, Wash.), PTVI — Guide
*# Brad Snyder (Baltimore, Md.), PTVI, Team Toyota athlete
Colin Riley (Cincinnati, Ohio), PTVI — Guide
Toyota (NYSE:TM), creator of the Prius hybrid and the Mirai fuel cell vehicle, is committed to building vehicles for the way people live through our Toyota and Lexus brands. Over the past 60 years, we’ve built more than 40 million cars and trucks in North America, where we have 14 manufacturing plants, 15 including our joint venture in Alabama (10 in the U.S.), and directly employ more than 47,000 people (over 36,000 in the U.S.). Our 1,800 North American dealerships (nearly 1,500 in the U.S.) sold nearly 2.8 million cars and trucks (nearly 2.4 million in the U.S.) in 2019.
About USA Triathlon
USA Triathlon is proud to serve as the National Governing Body for triathlon, as well as duathlon, aquathlon, aquabike, winter triathlon, off-road triathlon and paratriathlon in the United States. Founded in 1982, USA Triathlon sanctions more than 4,300 events and connects with more than 400,000 members each year, making it the largest multisport organization in the world. In addition to its work at the grassroots level with athletes, coaches, and race directors — as well as the USA Triathlon Foundation — USA Triathlon provides leadership and support to elite athletes competing at international events, including World Triathlon Championships, Pan American Games and the Olympic and Paralympic Games. USA Triathlon is a proud member of World Triathlon and the United States Olympic & Paralympic Committee (USOPC).