Paralympic selection for triathletes Faye and Joe

Faye McClelland (back right) and Joe Townsend (front centre) celebrate their selection into the Team GB Paratriathlon squad for  2016 Rio Paralympics
Faye McClelland (back right) and Joe Townsend (front centre) celebrate their selection into the Team GB Paratriathlon squad for 2016 Rio Paralympics

Eastbourne will be represented at the Rio Paralympic Games by two athletes Faye McClelland and Joe Townsend.

McClelland had her selection confirmed in London last week and will compete in the Paratriathlon while Townsend was also named in the 11-strong Great Britain Paratriathlon squad.

Their inclusion takes the number of athletes from Eastbourne and Hailsham competing at the Paralympic and Olympic Games in Rio to six. Seb Rodger will contest the 400m hurdles, Gemma Tattersall the Equestrian, Heather Olver is in the badminton doubles while Johanna Konta will represent Team GB in the tennis.

McClelland, who was a member of the Team Bodyworks XTC based in Eastbourne, recently switched to the Elite training centre in Loughborough to fine tune her preparations for Rio.

The qualified physiotherapist competes in the PT4 category for athletes with less severe arm and leg impairments. She was born without her left hand. Her event consists of a 5k run, a 750m swim and a 20k bike ride.

McClelland, 36, said, “We went to London last week to collect our kit. It was a very special moment and a mixture of relief and excitement.

“When I raced at the European Champs in Lisbon, (May) that was the big one for me. I knew I had to perform to get the qualification points for Rio. There was one spot remaining. Luckily it went my way, I finished second and gained enough points. Then in France (Besancon ITU World Paratriathlon, June) I came first and that cemented my spot.

“It was a fantastic feeling to have it confirmed in London. It was a wonderful day and I can’t wait to get out there. Training has been going well, I would love to medal and I have a chance if there are no major hiccups. As long as I perform as best as I can, I’ll be happy.”

Townsend, from Hankham, is a former Royal Marine and suffered life changing injuries while serving in Afganistan. The 28-year-old lost both legs after stepping on a landmine. He will compete in an event which combines wheelchair racing, wheelchair biking and swimming.

He competed in his first Ironman UK triathlon in July 2011 and has since completed the event again, and qualified for the Ironman World Championships in Kona, Hawaii, where he finished second.

At the Invitus Games in 2014 he won four gold medals on the athletics track. He also took part in the cycling and power lifting events.

Townsend carried the Paralympic Flame into the London 2012 stadium as part of the opening ceremony.

He finished third at the recent European Champs in Lisbon and was also third at the Besançon ITU World Paratriathlon in France.

He said, “If I can race as I have been in training and deliver what I know I can deliver, then I’ve got a good chance of getting on that podium. It’s going to be exciting!”

The Paralympic Games begin on September 7.