Rising star Oscar Kelly is relishing the prospect of showing a home crowd what he can do in Britain's first-ever standalone World Triathlon Para Series event writes Tum Balogun.
Today marks 50 days until Volvo 2022 World Triathlon Para Series Swansea, which will be taking place in the city on August 6.
Kelly, who has enjoyed a meteoric ascent since taking up the sport five years ago, believes the occasion has the ability to inspire a generation of para-athletes and said: “I’m super excited to be racing.
“It’s the first Para World Series that’s not got anything else around it, so it’ll be a little bit different and it'll be super exciting to see friends and family there.
“People usually come and see us as just an event that’s on and don’t really realise what level we race at, but hopefully we’ll have massive crowds out there cheering us on.
“Hopefully it will open doors to younger international athletes as well [because] at the end of the day that’s who we want to try and inspire.”
The 21-year-old, aided by his friend and guide Charlie Harding, finished second in his first ever World Cup event before becoming British champion in his B3 classification.
The Londoner topped off his debut campaign with an impressive sixth place finish in the World Paratriathlon Championships last year.
Harding, 19, who is an aspiring athlete himself, added: “Para sports are in the spotlight and the focus is fully on that, which is really going to lift the competition within paratriathlon especially.
“You can already see that the younger generations are coming forward and I think paratriathlon is going to move much more in line with non-disabled triathlons.
“For them to watch it on TV will be really good.”
With a little over a month to go until the landmark event, anticipation is building for what the series could do for the world of para sports.
British Triathlon CEO Andy Salmon was keen to highlight the incredible exposure participating athletes will be able to enjoy.
He said: “Volvo 2022 World Triathlon Para Series Swansea will be the first standalone event of its level to be hosted in Britain and with 50 days to go it’s shaping up to be a showcase for the sport.
“The best paratriathletes in the world will be in the city to swim, bike, run, providing a home race for British athletes at the top of the sport.
“Up-and-coming domestic paratriathlon talent will also be competing earlier in the day in the British Paratri Super Series to support their development and give them the experience of competing at an elite level event.
“We’re really excited to be working with Swansea City Council, the Welsh Government, Welsh Triathlon and UK Sport to bring this event to Britain.
“It’s been a long-held ambition for British Triathlon and we’re delighted that we can host a home paratriathlon event through to Paris 2024 to help grow paratriathlon locally, nationally and internationally.”
Swansea is no stranger to endurance events, with many triathlon and Ironman series taking place on the Welsh coast.
Robert Francis-Davies, Swansea Council’s cabinet member for investment, regeneration and tourism, added: “Excitement is mounting in Swansea, with the city’s World Triathlon Para Series only 50 days away.
“It’s great to see key figures from the triathlon community here today – and we look forward to hosting hundreds of athletes and many spectators at the event on August 6.
“With Ironman 70.3 Swansea planned for the following day, it’s going to be a great sporting weekend for us.
“These events, along with all the others that the city hosts each year, will inspire even more people to compete in sport – competitive or recreational - and to enjoy our fabulous local area and facilities.”
Before Kelly and Harding can turn their attention to the showpiece, they have a home Commonwealth Games to contend with.
The duo are delighted to have earned selection for Team England and share a desire for a passionate home support in Birmingham.
Kelly said: “Getting selected for the Commonwealth Games after our first year of international racing was magical.
“We will hopefully be hearing a lot more people cheering us on, being a British crowd - we’re a country that loves sports so I’m hoping we’ll have massive crowds out there.
“When you’re right on the edge hearing someone shout your name, even if you don’t know who they are it just really gives you that last little push.”
Harding added: “It won’t just be me shouting at Oscar! It will be the whole crowd, so he should be able to run really fast.”
Friday 17 June marks 50 days to go until Volvo 2022 World Triathlon Para Series Swansea, with Saturday 6 August seeing the highest tier of annual paratriathlon racing head to South Wales in Britain’s first standalone paratriathlon race of this level. Find out more about the event on the British Triathlon website https://www.britishtriathlon.org/events/major-events/world-triathlon-para-series-swansea.