Blind Austin triathlete Patricia Walsh is headed to Paralympic Games in Rio

Austin triathlete Patricia Walsh, who is blind, will compete at the Paralympic Games in Rio de Janeiro in September. Photo by Rodolfo Gonzalez/American-Statesman

Austin triathlete Patricia Walsh, who is blind, will compete at the Paralympic Games in Rio de Janeiro in September. Photo by Rodolfo Gonzalez/American-Statesman

It’s official. Austin athlete Patricia Walsh is heading to Rio de Janeiro for the Paralympic Games.

USA Triathlon today named eight athletes who will represent the United States in triathlon’s debut at the games this summer.

Besides Walsh, who is blind, will compete in the PT5 category for athletes who are visually impaired. She’ll race alongside a guide, who will help her navigate a course she cannot see. (She’s written a book, titled “Blind Ambition.”)

Walsh finished third overall and was the top American at the Rio de Janeiro ITU World Paratriathlon Event last August. She has won seven career gold medals and finished third in the ITU Paratriathlon World Championships in 2011 and 2012. She has also been the USA Paratriathlon National Champion every year since 2011.

Patricia Walsh, second from bottom, swims at the Lost Creek Country Club pool in Austin in this May 2012 file photo. Rodolfo Gonzalez/American-Statesman

Patricia Walsh, second from bottom, swims at the Lost Creek Country Club pool in Austin in this May 2012 file photo. Rodolfo Gonzalez/American-Statesman

Other athletes named to the team are Krige Schabort of Rome, Ga.; Hailey Danisewicz of Chicago;

Allysa Seely of Glendale, Ariz.; Mark Barr of Houston; Grace Norman of Jamestown, Ohio; Chris Hammer of Salt Lake City, Utah; and Elizabeth Baker of Signal Mountain, Tenn.

“We know we have some medal contenders in this group and are looking forward to watching these eight athletes make history in Rio,” USA Paratriathlon Program Senior Manager Amanda Duke Boulet said in a press release.

The triathlon events are scheduled for Sept. 10-11 at Copacabana Beach.

The eight U.S. quota spots were awarded based on international rankings of U.S. athletes from July 1, 2015 to June 30, 2016. The Paratriathlon Bipartite Commission will also invite additional individual athletes to join the U.S. Paralympic Triathlon Team.

For more information about the U.S. Olympic and Paralympic triathlon teams, go here.

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