UQ alumnus and paratriathlete trains for 2020 Tokyo Paralympics

4 Jul 2017

He has his sights set on representing Australia at the Tokyo Paralympics in 2020, and UQ alumnus and paratriathlete, Joshua Kassulke (Bachelor of Engineering, 2013) is only just getting started.

“On 19 July 2013, I was involved in a workplace accident where my right hand was traumatically amputated.

I have always been a passionate sports person and so, a year and a half after the accident, I decided to start training for my first triathlon as a paratriathlete. In 2015, I competed in my first race at the National Championships and I received third place.

Since then, I have represented Australia in nine international and continental competitions!

A paratriathlon is a variant on the usual triathlon, but is designed for athletes with a physical disability. Athletes compete in one of six categories, depending on the nature of their impairment. These range from wheelchair athletes to visual impairment. My category is one of the most competitive categories as athletes in my category have an amputation or impairment of one of their arms above the elbow, or below the knee.

All categories include, swimming 750 metres, cycling 20 kilometres and running 5 kilometres. I don’t use any aids when I compete as it takes time in transition to put them on. My time trial bike does not require any additional prosthetics or aids to ride.

The paratriathlon is really only now coming to be well known, as it was added to the 2016 Summer Paralympics schedule for the first time. 60 athletes competed in Rio de Janeiro in this sport, and it is inspiring to see the quality of sportsmanship they have brought to the sport on an international level. Australian Katie Kelly won a gold medal in the women’s paratriathlon at Rio, proving Australian athletes are at the top of the board, even in these relatively new sports.

I’m now training to compete on this scale in the 2020 Tokyo Paralympics. My current training schedule is not as stringent as last year as I am working full-time, however each week I try to fit in approx. 20km of swimming, 260km of riding and 35km of running.

Whilst competing I also work in project management at TSA Management. My Current project is a 150 bed high aged care facility at Northlakes. Prior to this, I was working in construction engineering. Thankfully, my workplace is supportive of my Paralympic dream and they employ many people on flexible hours.

As long as I can remember, I have wanted to be involved in designing cars. I performed well in math and science subjects at school, so I naturally gravitated towards mechanical engineering.

I began studying a Bachelor of Engineering (Mechanical) at The University of Queensland in 2008. My time at UQ was challenging as the degree commitments consumed a lot of effort and time. In hindsight, it prepared me for my professional career very well.

I am looking forward to furthering my career in project management whilst working toward my goal of competing in the 2020 Tokyo Paralympics.”