11 Mar 2024
Lauren Parker – 2024 update

Lauren Parker – 2024 update

Just writing another update for you all about my success in 2023 and what is coming up in 2024.

There was a lot of great racing in 2023. I was overseas competing for 3 months starting with a race in Montreal, Canada where I got the win. From there I flew to Swansea, Wales with the Australian Para-Triathlon team for another race although it didn’t quite go to plan. I ended up getting a skin infection, cellulitis, and was sick with a fever. It’s a serious condition and can turn to Sepsis if you don’t get on top of it early. I’ve had it bad before, so I knew what it was. I had to be rushed to hospital before it spread, to get the strongest antibiotics. I was in hospital for a good 48 hours, and that was an experience. They were understaffed and had no beds. They were admitting people to the waiting room to lay on bench seats, and I was one of them. In the end I was in no shape to race.

Australian triathlete Lauren Parker at edge of outdoor swimming pool

After Wales I had two and a half weeks on my own, as the Australia Para-Triathlon team was going back to Australia. I had to figure out where to go for two and half weeks before meeting the Australian Para-Cycling Team in Glasgow for the Para-Cycling World Championships. I was quite anxious because it was the first time travelling on my own with two big bike boxes, two wheels boxes, two extra-large suitcases, my day wheelchair and me. It’s quite a nightmare with all the luggage. I decided to fly to Mallorca, Spain because I knew people there from living there when I was able-bodied. My friend came to the airport in Mallorca to pick me up with his cargo van. It worked out well in the end. I spent the next two weeks training on the beautiful Spanish island of Mallorca. It’s my favourite place in the world for training. There are the mountains for riding, and the Mediterranean for swimming. What more can you want. I was also able to catch up with a lot of friends there because I hadn’t been back to the Island since I was training there in 2016 as an able-bodied athlete. I had an amazing two weeks and got some great training done.

In August, I was in Glasgow for the Para-Cycling Road World Championships. This was my second international cycling event but after getting a win at my first cycling event back in May I knew I had a chance of becoming world champion. I had a great preparation even despite the sickness I had in Wales. I was confident and believed I could win when I was on the start line of the 20km Time-Trial. After a solid race which consisted of pain…and more pain…I crossed the line, and I won by over a minute to become World Champion in the Time-Trial event. I was so happy. Two days later I had the 65km road race. In this race you are allowed to draft off each other so it’s very tactical. It ended up coming down to a sprint finish with myself and the current road race world champion, but I got beat on the line to come second. I was still so happy because it was my second road race that I’ve ever competed in on a handcycle.

Australian triathlete Lauren Parker holding gold medal

After that event I went to Paris and met up with the Australian Para-Triathlon team again. This race was a World Cup test event over what is going to be the Paralympic course. It’s a very iconic course set in the middle of Paris. In the end it got changed to a duathlon because the water quality in the river wasn’t so good. I was nervous about this because I really needed the swim to get a good lead. I got a lot of confidence from this race though because I won even with it being a duathlon.

From there I had a 4-week triathlon training camp in a village called Banyoles in Spain. I was doing my preparation there because the Para-Triathlon World Championships was in Pontevedra, Spain at the end of September. I didn’t have a good preparation in this town though. It wasn’t great for wheelchairs let alone training. I was there with the able-bodied athletes which for able-bodied athletes it was a great destination. A few things went wrong, and I wasn’t happy being there and just couldn’t wait to get back home.

The World Championships came, and I wasn’t confident. I ended up scraping through with a win and becoming 4-time world champion at that distance, but it was a closer finish than normal, and I don’t want to be in that position again. I knew I needed to make some changes when I got back home and for 2024.

After a long flight I finally got home. I couldn’t wait to see my dog, Tilly, who I had missed so much and would face time every single day when I was away. I got home and really needed a break from everything, sport, training and triathlon. I ended up having my longest ever break of 8 weeks which was much needed after 3 months overseas with a lot of ups and downs. I needed to have that break because I knew 2024 was going to be a big year with the Paralympics.

When I started back training though, I regretted having so much time off because I was so unfit. It’s always so hard getting back into it and finding the consistency and routine of training again. I said I would make some changes for 2024 – one being coaching. I’ve decided I’m being the leader of ‘me’, and I will be coaching myself and writing my own training programs but still have my triathlon coach and cycling coach as advisors if I need. I love planning and especially when it comes to my training plan. It’s working well so far.

2024 has started off great. I had a few races in the first two weeks of January for cycling. It’s hard to try and be prepared to race at this time in January after Christmas. I had to train right through December after my break and fast track some fitness. The first race was Nationals in Ballarat which I won, and the next was a cycling World Cup in Adelaide where I won both the Time-Trial and Road Race events. I felt really strong so it’s nice to know that training is on the right track.

I came home and started focusing more on swimming and running (racing-wheelchair) because I must balance the triathlon and cycling load. I have just raced the Para-Triathlon Oceania Champs in my hometown of Newcastle and became 6x Oceania Champion. I have started the year off strong.

Australian triathlete Lauren Parker at edge of outdoor swimming pool

Training really ramps up now for some important races in May where I will be competing in a Para-Cycling World Cup in Belgium and a Para-Triathlon World Series race in Japan. The next 10 weeks of training is important. I will be focusing on the little things that need improving before the Paralympics in September.

Now I am working with the Australian Institute of Sport engineering department to develop a new racing wheelchair (the chair I use for the run leg in a triathlon). They have remodelled one of my older chairs and I am using it in training for the next few weeks. It’s a totally new position and puts me in a better body position when I am in the chair. Once I’m comfortable with the position I will be ordering a brand-new chair from the United States ready for the Paralympics.

I am trying to qualify for the Paralympics in two sports, cycling and triathlon. It’s all looking promising after becoming world champion in both sports last year, which is really exciting.

Thank you for your support.

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