clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

USA’s Hailey Danz races to silver in wild Paralympic women’s triathlon

Danz’s surge on the bike yielded a comeback medal for Team LGBTQ and Team USA.

Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games - Day Four
A winning smile through the searing heat as Team USA’s Hailey Danz powers to a silver medal in triathlon at the Tokyo Paralympics.
Photo by John Walton/PA Images via Getty Images

Hailey Danz five years ago celebrated a silver medal for the USA at the triathlon at the 2016 Paralympics in Rio.

She entered the women’s PTS2 triathlon at the Paralympics in Tokyo having already celebrated a personal win, coming into the competition saying, “For the first time in my life, I’m proud to be gay.”

She was a kilometer short of ending up golden.

Danz used a powerful bike leg to surge from fourth place to the lead in this year’s triathlon. However, fellow American and 2016 Paralympic triathlon gold medalist Allysa Seely passed Danz at the 4-kilometer mark of the final run phase and powered to the win in 1:14:03.

Danz will head home with the event’s silver medal. Italy’s Veronica Yoko Plebani won the bronze.

The challenge to a strong American contingent was thrown down in the swim. Japan’s Yukako Hata built a 12-second lead on the USA’s Melissa Stockwell, who was third in Rio in 2016. Danz sat fourth coming out the water, 37 seconds back. Seely was fifth.

Danz’s push for a podium spot rested on her strategy for the bike.

“My goal really was to tear it up through the bike course and create as much of a gap as I could out there,” Danz said to NBC Sports after the race.

Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games - Day Four
Danz’s goal was to make her charge on the bike leg. It paid in off in her surge from fourth to first
Photo by John Walton/PA Images via Getty Images

She crushed that goal. Danz stormed to the lead through the first of four laps through the 5-kilometer bike circuit. She faced a challenge at 16 kilometers from Britain’s Fran Brown, who is known as a strong cyclist. Brown took the lead, but Danz fought back to retake the lead a few corners later.

Danz pressed her advantage through the transition to the final 5-kilometer run on a blistering Tokyo morning. She was 11 seconds ahead of Brown as she pushed towards a possible gold medal. She was also 1:26 ahead of Seely, who entered the run in fourth place.

Danz held strong through three laps on the 1.25-mile run circuit, but Seely’s strength as a runner consistently whittled the gap. She moved from fourth to second right behind Ganz. Seely passed her teammate and training partner in the final kilometer and raced away to a 55-second win for her second consecutive triathlon gold medal at the Paralympics.

Coming down the final straight to complete a USA 1-2 finish, Danz was all smiles even through the heat and perhaps disappointment. The boost of energy was foretold in her Instagram coming out message from last November.

I can’t afford to waste any more energy building dams. Because I have far more important things to do with all that energy. ⁣⁣⁣⁣

The energy powered Danz to her second Paralympic silver medal, and another medal for Team LGBTQ’s tally at these Games.