GREENWICH, Conn. -- Greenwich’s Amy Dixon started the triathlon season wondering whether she could compete against nationally and internationally ranked para-athletes.
After a series of podium finishes, including a second place in the Paratriathlon National Championships last weekend in Tempe, Ariz., she has erased any doubt.
“I definitely am getting faster and stronger,’’ said Dixon, who has less than 1 percent vision. “I finally felt like I belonged there, once I got to feel what it’s like to stand on a podium. The work is getting done with coach Jon Stellwagen. I am so grateful for how far I’ve gotten with him guiding this year. I’m not as fast as I want to be on the run yet. That’s going to be the final piece of the puzzle.”
Competing with guide Caroline Gaynor, Dixon raced around the Sprint distance course (750 meter swim, 12.4 mile bike ride, 3.1 mile run) in 1:29:59. She finished second in the PT5 division, which is for athletes with limited vision.
Dixon, who won a bronze medal in the Pan American Championships in June, a bronze at Can-Ams In July and 8th place at the World Championships, is ranked seventh in the world in her division of para-triathletes.
“The race where it all came together for me was in New York City in August,’’ Dixon said. “It didn’t count for world ranking points or anything. I went out and had my best race because there wasn’t any pressure. It was my fastest time ever. I realized I can still have fun and do well.”
The season has been a physical grind for Dixon, who has raced frequently since May. She will represent the United States in a race in Brazil in two weeks -- she is the only woman from the U.S. competing in the event -- and will head to a U.S. Paralympic Cycling talent development camp in Colorado before her season ends on Nov. 2.
“Coach Jon said I can have a beer that day,’’ Dixon said. “I’m looking forward to that.”
She will require six weeks off during the winter for more eye surgery. She developed uveitis, an inflammation of the uvea, 16 years ago and has progressively lost nearly all vision and is now battling glaucoma.
Dixon travels with her Guiding Eyes dog, Elvis, who will also retire over the winter.
The swift progress by Dixon has been astounding since she took up the sport last year. Now she’s world-ranked, raking in hardware and loving every minute of it. Well, most of the time.
“I’m tired,’’ she said. “It’s like coffee doesn’t even work for me any more. I’m going to need a nice long nap after this season is over.”
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