Commonwealth Games: ‘Unstoppable’ para-triathlete Emily Tapp eyes gold on the Coast

By , 17/12/2018 16:21

Ask those closest to Canberra-based para-triathlete Emily Tapp and they will tell you she is “unstoppable”.

Her rapid rise to Commonwealth Games gold medal contention is proof.

She became a paraplegic in 2011 following a campdrafting accident, having grown up on a remote cattle property in the Northern Territory.

Emily Tapp in action. Photo: Jamila Toderas

She underwent three years of rehabilitation but Tapp’s competitive fire never burned out, so she turned to para-triathlon.

She won her first race in 2015 and soon after she was in the frame for a Rio Paralympic Games berth in the 400m wheelchair event, before withdrawing due to burns to her leg.

Now the 26 year-old is the reigning para-triathlon world champion and wants to beat everyone across the line on the Gold Coast in April.

With less than a month left until she swims 750 metres, hand cycles 20km and wheelchair races five kilometres in the hunt for gold,it is all starting to sink in.

“I know we had our official announcement last week but I think I was a little bit exhausted from the actual race to realise that it was all happening. This week it has all really set in,” Tapp said.

“Today marks one month until I will have raced. I believe, I don’t have a watch on, but I will have finished my race by now. It’s a pretty surreal feeling to think one month from now [it’s all happening].

“I had a fantastic 2017 season, undefeated in every race I did. It’s a pretty surreal feeling. For me coming off the back of 2016, I really wanted to focus on the process and the training.

“I wanted to go to training with the pure goal of executing it to the best of my abilities. For that to show on race day, that was my proudest moment.

“The medals are great and all, but to know that my training, that’s what shone through and that’s what got me the medal, it’s better than the medal.”​

Tapp is narrowing in on the “one-percenters” – not just her usual training, but being smart about her recovery, nutrition and sleep.

This is her “favourite time”, because she can feel the excitement of race day creeping closer – but that doesn’t mean it’s hard to switch off from competition mode when she needs to.

“You know what, I’m a big Netflixer, so it’s not actually,” Tapp said.

“I will happily go home once I finish and just have a rest and recovery. I like to do something maybe once a week that isn’t fully focused on triathlon because you do need that break.

“I’m a creature of habit, so I’ve had a very similar training program for the last 12 months which I feel works best for my body.”

Tapp ​trains in Canberra under the watchful eyes of 2004 Olympic Games triathlete Megan Halland athletics coach FredPeriac.

​Hall has nothing but praise for Tapp as she looks to launch a raid on the Commonwealth Games in search of gold.

“She’s the most gracious, humble lady to work with,” Hall said.

“Emily is really great in that she really does hand it over to the coaches. She does have full belief in what we’re doing for her. She is very good at listening to what we ask of her.

“She’s very good at challenging us to make sure that we’re kept on our toes. She’s good at sticking to the plan and what she needs to execute.

“Come race day, we love that attitude of ‘unstoppable’, because she will just keep going until she gets across that finish line.”

Canberra Times

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