Multisport: Paratriathlete building up for Rio in 2016

New Zealand paratriathlete Nick Ruane will compete in the Lake Wanaka Half triathlon today. Photo...
New Zealand paratriathlete Nick Ruane will compete in the Lake Wanaka Half triathlon today. Photo supplied.
For the first time in Challenge Wanaka history, a paratriathlete will take on the Lake Wanaka Half triathlon today.

Nick Ruane (39), of Wellington, will tackle the 1.9km swim, 90km bike and 21.1km half-marathon run - held simultaneously with the Challenge Wanaka long-distance event - as part of his build-up to qualify for the Rio 2016 Paralympic Games, where paratriathlon will debut.

Ruane suffered a stroke at the age of 3 that paralysed the left side of his body and resulted in him developing epilepsy.

After becoming, in his own words, ''overweight, unfit and unhealthy'' due to the loneliness and frustration he felt as a child, he decided to turn his life around and compete in triathlon.

Ruane, who works in parliament for MP Mojo Mathers, said entering Challenge Wanaka had been on his wish list and he was prepared for the tough course.

''I've been round the course so I know what I'm coming up against. There are some hills in Wellington so it's not completely frightening. I just want to have a really solid day out there and not do myself too much damage.''

Ruane became the first para athlete to complete a long-distance triathlon in New Zealand (Taupo, 2011) and the only New Zealand para athlete to bring home a medal at the long-distance form of the sport - silver at the 2011 ITU Long Distance World Championships in Las Vegas, in the United States.

He also won the 2011-12 Triathlon NZ Disabled Athlete Performance of the Year and finished seventh in the 2012 Paratriathlon World Championships grand final in Auckland.

Part of his ambition to compete at Rio is a desire to raise the profile of paratriathlon.

''It's the kind of sport that sits under the radar. That's really why I got involved, to show that paratriathletes can get out there and do crazy things.''


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