COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. - USA Triathlon today honored world championship medalists Melissa Stockwell and JP Theberge as its 2011 USA Paratriathlon Athletes of the Year. The accolades were selected by the USA Triathlon Age Group Committee. USA Triathlon will announce its 2011 Age Group, Junior and Elite Athletes of the Year later this week.
Stockwell (Chicago, Ill.) earns the women's annual honor for the second straight year after winning her second consecutive TRI-2 title at the 2011 ITU Paratriathlon World Championships in Beijing, China. She led a U.S. sweep of the TRI-2 podium in Beijing and also captured TRI-2 gold at the 2011 USA Paratriathlon National Championship at the Nautica New York City Triathlon.
"With USA Paratriathlon Athletes of the Year Melissa Stockwell and JP Theberge leading the way, 2011 was yet another strong year for U.S. paratriathletes in domestic and international competition," said Steve Sutherland, chair of the USA Triathlon Age Group Committee Athlete of the Year Subcommittee. "We congratulate all these inspirational athletes and look forward to seeing the continued growth of this remarkable sport in the future."
National champions Andre Kajlich (TRI-1, Seattle, Wash.) and Joel Rosinbum (TRI-4, Portland, Ore.) were honorable mention selections on the men's side. Kajlich was a silver medalist in his first-ever world championships appearance, while Rosinbum won gold at the 2011 ITU World Championship Series Madrid event.
On the women's side, Sarah Reinertsen (TRI-2, Mission Viejo, Calif.) and Patricia Walsh (TRI-6, Seattle, Wash.) claimed honorable mention selections after earning silver and bronze, respectively, at the 2011 ITU Paratriathlon World Championships. Reinertsen also won gold at the 2011 ITU World Championship Series London event, while Walsh was victorious at the 2011 USA Paratriathlon National Championship.
Historically one of the world's top paratriathlon nations, the U.S. has earned more than one-fourth of all possible podium finishes at the ITU Paratriathlon World Championships since 2008. Paratriathlon will make its Paralympic Games debut in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, in 2016.