Kelly wins para-triathlon gold alongside Michellie Jones
Published 12 September 2016 (AEDT)
She won the first Olympic triathlon silver medal 16 years ago, but helping win the first Paralympic triathlon gold in Rio was icing on the birthday cake for Michellie Jones.
The Sydney 2000 Olympian, who celebrated her 47th birthday this week, teamed up with debutante Katie Kelly as her sighted guide to win the sport's inaugural Paralympic title on Brazil's Copacabana beach.
"This is the best birthday present, thanks KK! We don't have a cake, but the gold medal will do just fine," Jones said.
"I'm just so happy that I got to be part of her ride."
Kelly, who is legally blind, came from behind in the women's PT5 swim to move into first place in the bike leg.
She then powered home in the final run on Sunday (Monday AEST), with Jones acting as her eyes the whole time.
"It's something that you wish for but try not to dream about," Kelly said.
"It's just special to be here with MJ, she's given me so much."
Jones said the experience topped her Olympic podium finish at the Sydney Olympic Games.
"To me this is the best thing I've ever done. When I think of everything that KK has been through... she never lets anything stand in her way," Jones said.
Kelly, who has Usher syndrome, grew up wearing hearing aids and was told at 25 she would start losing her vision.
Having competed as an able-bodied triathlete and marathon runner, the 41-year-old set her sights on the Paralympics in January 2015 when her sight had deteriorated to a legally blind status.
"Disability doesn't define you, it's what you do with it that does," Kelly said.
The Canberra-based athlete said Jones is a tough mentor, but with 28 years of experience in the sport, Kelly is happy to take orders.
"When I can hear I listen. Sometimes I turn the hearing aids off and tune out," Kelly said.
"I didn't make her puke today, so that was good," Jones added.
The tight-knit duo now plan to celebrate their victory Brazilian style.
"Caipirinhas. And then maybe another one," Kelly said.
Also making history on day four of competition were Aussie teammates Kate Doughty and Claire McLean, who placed fifth and ninth respectively in the first ever women's PT4 para-triathlon.