MICHAEL MILTON will once again compete for Australia, this time in
triathlon at the 2011 World Championships in Beijing in September.
The six-time Paralympian and world record speed skier is one of four
athletes with a disability in the Australian team.
After a sterling career as a ski racer, winning 22 international medals
over almost 20 years, Milton switched to cycling and then beat oesophageal
cancer to be selected in the Australian cycling team for the 2008 Beijing
Paralympic Games. He took up triathlon last year and was due to compete in
his first event, the Noosa Triathlon, at the end of October but a cycling
accident put him in hospital for a week and in a back brace for six. He
fractured his spine, ribs and shoulder blade.
Milton finally competed in his first sprint triathlon in February and has
since completed two more. His current personal best time of 1:36.36 would
have put him in seventh place at last year's World Triathlon Championships.
The sport will debut at the 2016 Paralympic Games but Milton is quick to
point out that racing there is not currently on his radar.
"I will be 43 by then so I think that's it's a long shot. I like being
involved in a developing and growing sport though and I'm really looking
forward to competing in Beijing," said a beaming Milton.
Now a father of two, he said his motivation to train and compete has
changed since his second cancer diagnosis.
"It's less about winning and more about my health these days. Competing
gives me the motivation to train and I'm hoping that being fit and healthy
will keep the cancer monster away. Plus, competition has always been a part
of my life. It's hard to let that go and why should I?" said Milton.
Asked why he doesn't just compete locally, Australia's fastest skier has a
"Compete against who? I haven't found another one legged triathlete in
Australia yet so when I race it's just me against the clock. That's okay
but when the opportunity to race internationally against other amputees
came up, I couldn't resist. I haven't completely lost the will to win,"
In an effort to encourage more people with disabilities to take up the
sport, Milton has set up a Facebook Group called Paratri Athletes
Australia. He is also recruiting other amputees for a mountain biking team
"Triathlons and mountain biking: It's all good fun but I am much happier
when I have someone to compete with or against. At this stage in both
sports' development, we all have to find each other and I'm just trying to
play my part in that," said Milton.