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Ashford’s Henry Urand has eyes on Paralympics after making huge strides ahead of return to World Triathlon Para Series event in Swansea

Ashford triathlete Henry Urand believes he is a world away from the competitor who last raced at the World Triathlon Para Series in Swansea.

When Urand, 21, lined up at the start in South Wales last year, he had just finished an intensive year as an insurance broker for Amazon.

Ashford triathlete Henry Urand has his sights on the Paris Paralympics later this year. Picture: Beat Media Group
Ashford triathlete Henry Urand has his sights on the Paris Paralympics later this year. Picture: Beat Media Group

Now, he is a full-time paratriathlete with one eye on the Paralympic Games.

“It was bittersweet racing in Swansea last year with it being an aquathlon,” the 21-year-old said.

“It was my first World Series race so it was a real mix of emotions. I was happy to be there but I was disappointed with the result.

“Given it was an aquathlon, I was massively disadvantaged. I knew that waking up on the day of the race.

“I am looking forward to hoping to righting things this year. Eighth place, I was happy with it last year, I had spent four-to-five months in triathlon so I can be pleased with it.

“I posted the second-fastest run in my category so there were definitely signs of what to come but it wasn’t the end result.

“I would say I am a completely different athlete from then to now and that is all down to the training of British Triathlon coaches, putting in the work with me day in, day out.

“I’ve come a long way and I can’t wait to see what happens.”

Urand was part of British Cycling’s development programme before making the switch to triathlon last year.

Last year’s race in Swansea was changed to an aquathlon - a swim and then a run - which left Urand without his favoured event.

He went on to become British champion last August before securing his first World Series podium in his first race of the 2024 season in Davenport.

Now, he will head to Swansea with the chance to secure more points in the race for Paralympic qualification.

“The week before Swansea last year was the day I finished my placement year,” he added.

“So I finished on Friday, went out with my team and then a week later I was lining up on the startline in Swansea.

“It is a whole different thing going from a posh building, then you are on a startline. I wouldn’t change a thing and I think I am taking life with a different perspective.

“This time last year I wouldn’t have believed you if you told me I could be going to the Paralympic Games.

“It is a surreal moment to be in this position, I do have to level myself about it and you can’t really describe it.

“It almost feels so close but yet so far but to go would be unreal, it would be an experience that I have dreamt about but has become a real possibility over the last eight months.

“And it is what I wake up every day wanting to do and that is the reason I am out the door training, to be there on that startline on 1 September.”

The world’s best paratriathletes return to Swansea on Saturday, 22 June. The city will come alive with swim, bike, run ahead of the Paris Paralympic Games, with Swansea one of the final opportunities to secure crucial qualification points. Find out more at: https://www.britishtriathlon.org/events/major-events/world-triathlon-para-series-swansea

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