Now boarding: Berwick to Paris

Jack Howell has been leaving all competitors in his wake... 282329 Picture: SUPPLIED

By Tyler Lewis

Jack Howell is used to taking on big opponents in big races.

But the Berwick athlete is now taking on a new opponent… time.

While he continues to chalk up gold medals, Howell needs more international placings to improve his all-important world ranking.

Howell recently collected gold at the National Paratriathlon Championships in Runaway Bay, proving he truly has what it takes to compete with the best of the best on an international stage.

“My recent win at the National Paratriathlon Championships – at Runaway Bay – gave me a chance to show my potential, I felt great and it translated to some good racing times,” Howell said.

“It’s a great honour to be National Paratriathlon Champion in my category, it makes me want to strive for more and get out there on the world stage.

“It really helps me to be confident in my ability to progress to the next level and to keep improving in triathlon.

“I was really happy with my running times in the race; I did well to only be a few seconds short from Paralympian Sam Harding.

“I would really like to improve my cycling times though, and I am keen to get on a Time Trial bike, which is faster and essential for international competition.”

With a shorter gap between Tokyo and Paris, Howell is now racing the clock to improve his world ranking.

The 18-year-old out of Kambrya College is currently ranked 31st in the world, but requires a ranking 10th or higher to book himself a ticket to the Paris Paralympics.

As a result, Howell will need to compete in international races to improve his ranking ahead of 2024.

The first opportunity is in just three weeks’ time, when Howell travels to France to compete in Besancon, then on to Spain to compete in A Coruna.

Howell will be racing against athletes ranked in the top-10 in the world, with some athletes more than twice his age.

“The lead up to the 2024 Paris Paralympics is a lot shorter due to Covid restricted travel and the delayed Tokyo Paralympics,” Howell said.

“I need to get higher in the world rankings this year so that I can compete in Paralympic qualifying races next year.

“That means lots of international racing this year and hopefully some good results.”

As well as racing against fellow gifted athletes, and his own race against time, Howell is also facing the challenge of funding given to the nation’s best para athletes.

To get to Paris, Howell needs a specific Time Trial bike that is critical in him performing for his country.

The bike and international travel is costly to say the least and as a result the Howell family have created a fundraising website in which the local community can support a star on the rise.

“Being a para athlete comes with many different challenges, and one of them is the lack of funding to progress in my sport to international level,” Howell said.

“It would mean the world to me if my local community could believe in me and help with some financial support to get me started in international racing.

“I live and train in the Casey/Cardinia area, you’ll often see me swimming at Cardinia LIFE and the ARC, riding in Upper Beaconsfield and Pakenham, and running the streets of Berwick.”

To support Howell on his journey to Paris 2024, follow Jack on social media and donate at the link: