Newcastle’s paratriathlete superstar Lauren Parker made history at the NSW Institute of Sport in Sydney, after being honoured with the Ian Thorpe AM Outstanding Achievement award for the second consecutive year in a row.
The 30-year-old claimed the back-to-back plaudits for her stellar 2019 calendar year, where she claimed her first world title in September, and secured the number one spot in the rankings ahead of qualification for the 2020 Paralympics in Tokyo.
Parker has only been competing in paratriathlon competitions since April 2017, when she was involved in a freak training accident. She overcame that adversity, however, and was rewarded for three years work with the top spot this year.
She earned her No.1 placing with a massive 700-point haul in the ITU World Triathlon grand final in Switzerland. Parker posted 12 minutes and 46 seconds for the swim section and maintained her lead throughout the bike and run disciplines.
She finished a commanding two minutes clear of her nearest competitor. Her performance in Lusanne fired Parker to 1424.07 points, nearly a full ton clear of second.
“To claim the world title so soon after my accident, I would never have believed I could have done it when I was back in hospital,” Parker said.
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“It’s been a very fast journey, it’s happened so quickly and that was a very special moment, crossing the line at the world championships.
“It made me think about what I’d been through in order to get to that point, and I’ve had to overcome quite a lot of things over the last 18 months and I couldn’t have been happier. To think that I’m world champion is so surreal.”
The top-spot achievement, and her world title, one-ups her 2018 haul, when she scored bronze in the same event last year on the Gold Coast. She also finished with a third-place record in the Commonwealth Games in the same month.
“This is a great honour,” Parker said after receiving her second award.
“Switzerland was the race I’ve been training towards for 12 months or more, I couldn’t be more happy,” Parker told media after the NSWIS ceremony.
“I had so many thoughts running through my head when I crossed the line. What it took me to get there, what I had to go through, all the spinal cord surgeries that I’ve been through, just my journey.”
While she’s now made history in a host of different ways, Parker said she hadn’t even thought about slowing down yet. With Tokyo on the horizon, she’s training even harder, and wants to make 2020 even bigger than her last two years.
“I’ve got a really big year ahead with the Paralympics in my sights,” she said. “I’m hoping to get the best preparation ever and there’s only one goal… the gold medal.”
The 2020 Paralympics will run from August 25 to September 6 in Tokyo. The 2020 Summer Olympics will conclude just prior to the event beginning, with that event running in the same location from July 24 to August 9.