Walsh and Meehan Line Out in Rio Paratriathlon

Meehan Walsh

Paratriathlon Pioneers

Catherine Walsh and her pilot Fran Meehan will line out on Sunday at the Paralympic Games in Rio as Ireland's first ever competitors in paratriathlon.

The pair, who only started competing in the sport in 2014, face a highly competitive field in the PT5 category of the women's paratriathlon race, which will see them swim 750m in Copacabana Bay, cycle 22km along Avenue Atlantica and finally run 5km along the the beach front to the finish line.

Rio Para Map

A Winning History

Walsh and Meehan have been teammates for a number of years, having won two medals in paracycling at the London Paralympics. But the pair are relatively inexperienced at paratriathlon and qualifying for the Games has been a testament to how quickly they've adapted to their new sport.

Catherine Walsh said although they believe they still have improvements to make - especially in swimming, she and Fran are excited about competing and are ready to race:  

"I am delighted that we've even qualified and it's such an honour to represent Ireland so hopefully we can help get the message out there that paratriathlon is a growing sport in Ireland."

"We've really been thrown in at the deep end but we have a long history together and I think that fact means we nearly know how each other thinks and acts under pressure, we know how to get  the best out of each other and are a good psychological back up as well."

Walsh added: "It's a bit daunting, we are still growing in to this sport. The swim is definitely my weakest element and I'd love to have some more time to start closing the gaps. We will be up against people who are at this full time for a couple of years and there's a lot of strength and depth so it's going to be tough."

Catherine Walsh and Fran Meehan London 2012

Seventh Games for Walsh

The Rio Games will mark an incredible seventh time that Catherine Walsh has lined out in the paralympics.

The visually impaired athlete started her athletic career in athletics, where she competed for Ireland in four paralympic games, earning a bronze medal in pentathlon at Sydney 2000.

Next up for the mother of two was a transition to paracycling where she established her continuing relationship with Fran Meehan. Together the pair dominated their class at the London Paralympics, winning gold on the track and silver in the time trial event. Even before they made the transition to triathlon, Walsh and Meehan had their eye on multi-sport, winning the ITU Duathlon World Championships in Edinburgh in 2010.

They made the transition to paratriathlon in 2014, winning the National Championships the same year but it wasn't until 2015 that they launched in to international racing, placing 4th and 3rd at the Detroit and Edmonton ITU World Paratriathlon events, and 9th at the ITU Grand Final in Chicago.

So far this year, Ireland's best female paratriathletes have won ITU World Cup races at Strathclyde and Besancon and a bronze medal at Aguillas.

Walsh Meehan 1

Fran Meehan has piloted for Catherine for many years  and won two Paralympic cycling medals with her in London. This is her second Paralympic Games.

She started out as a runner but then switched to competitive cycling in 2007 and is extremely versatile, winning on all terrain, including three national Cyclo-cross titles.

Walsh Meehan 2

Start Lists and Coverage

You can find more information on the Rio Paratriathlon events here  and you can learn more about Paratriathlon here

Follow the Triathlon Ireland Twitter feed and facebook page for more updates on coverage over the weekend.