GREENWICH, Conn. -- The triathlon season is just starting in Fairfield County. Already, Greenwich’s Amy Dixon has stamped herself as a rising international star and closing in on a berth in the Summer Paralympics next year in Rio De Janiero.
Dixon, a blind triathlete, teamed with sighted triathlon guide Lindsey Cook to finish second in the CAMTri Triathlon American Championships in early May. A few weeks later, the #blondesonbikes took second at the Paracycling National Championships in Chattanooga, Tenn.
The silver medal win in Monterrey was especially meaningful for Dixon in that she earned her elite paratriathlete card. That resulted in an invitation to a Rio test event in August and a week of training camp at the Olympic Training Center of Chula Vista, Calif.
“Every day I say, "I can't believe this is my 'real life,’’’ Dixon said. “I never ever even dared to dream something like this was possible for me, both with my vision impairment and my age.”
The Monterrey race started smoothly for Dixon, who had the fastest swim split and second fastest bike split in her division. She finished with a 23:03 5k that got off to a rocky start when found her breathing labored and was briefly forced to walk.
“We were at about 2000 feet of elevation in Monterrey, but I hadn't really felt badly on the swim and bike while we were there, even during the days leading up to the race,’’ Dixon said. “I never felt the oxygen deficit until the actual run portion of the race, and it was pretty significant for both me and Lindsey.”
Dixon and Cook fought through the adversity, which also included a 10-second penalty on the run, and finished the race in 1:14:35. The bike split was Dixon’s fastest by two minutes and she also has significantly dropped her 5k time.
Dixon, who took up the sport just two years ago, credits much of her success to Cook. Their chemistry was instantaneous, and is reflected in the way they compete.
“Lindsey and I immediately felt like long-lost twins separated at birth, finishing each other's sentences, and having the same thoughts at the same time during training and races. So the trust with Lindsey was extremely easy,’’ Dixon said.
Dixon added, however, that while she is Cook’s responsibility when they race, she also feels responsible for her partner.
“If she's feeling badly, then the whole thing falls apart,’’ said Dixon, who travels everywhere with her Guiding Eyes Guide Dog, Elvis. “So it's great for me to step outside of myself and be concerned about her taking in enough fluids, putting mistakes behind us mentally, and making sure she's getting the most out of the experience too,”
The season is just beginning for Dixon, who started working with Rye Tri Club coach Ray Kelly last year. She will train at the Olympic Training Center in California in July and the Rio test event in August.
Dixon now works with sports psychologist Simon Marshall, tuned up her nutrition with Green and Tonic in Greenwich and is racing with a new bike from Signature Cycles of Greenwich..
“I'm just so grateful for all the local support I get in the form of running guides, my Greenwich YMCA, Signature Cycles, and Cai and Jeff Pandolfino at Green and Tonic. It really does take a village."
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