By Tom Degun

USA Triathlon_logoSeptember 15 - The 2013 USA Paratriathlon National Championships are set to be contested in Austin, Texas, for the second consecutive year as the sport gears up to make its debut at the Paralympic Games in Rio in 2016.

Like last year, the event will be held on Memorial Day - May 27 - while it will be staged in conjunction with the Capital of Texas Triathlon meaning that America's top paratriathletes will race side-by-side with able-bodied athletes on a sprint-distance course that consists of a 750 metre swim, 20 kilometres cycle ride and 5km run.

"The Capital of Texas Triathlon and its staff did a fantastic job hosting the Paratriathlon Nationals this year and USA Triathlon looks forward to building on that success in 2013," said USA Triathlon chief executive Rob Urbach.

"Given the military backgrounds of many Paratriathletes, it is fitting to hold Paratriathlon Nationals on Memorial Day and we are proud to have this event be a key part of one of the nation's pre-eminent race weekends."

Many of the athletes racing in the Paratriathlon in Austin will be aiming to qualify for the sport's inaugural appearance at the Paralympics at Rio 2016 with the event set to be a key stepping stone in their preparations towards Brazil.

Melissa Stockwell_Austin_May_2011Iraqi veteran Melissa Stockwell on her way to winning the TRI-2 title at last year's USA Paratriathlon National Championships in Austin

Among the winners last year was Melissa Stockwell, former swimmer and US Army officer who was the first female soldier to lose a limb in the Iraq War.

She subsequently became the first Iraq veteran chosen for the Paralympics when she competed in three swimming events, the 100 metres butterfly, 100m freestyle and 400m freestyle at Beijing in 2008.

Stockwell was the US team's flag bearer at the Closing Ceremony and now has her sights set on competing in the Paratriathlon at Rio 2016.

"On behalf of our entire race organising committee, we are grateful that USA Triathlon chose to return to Austin and the CapTexTri for the 2013 USA Paratriathlon National Championships," said Rick Margiotta of the Capital of Texas Triathlon.

"The effort that was put forth to make this year's Paratriathlon Nationals the best experience ever for the participating athletes was certainly worthwhile knowing that we'll once again have the opportunity to be host to these amazing athletes.

"I know that the committee and the City of Austin will step up to the challenge of making the 2013 event another huge success."

Matthew Payne, the executive director of the Austin Sports Commission, has also welcomed the announcement.

"This event will be another opportunity to host inspiring athletes and showcase our dynamic city," he said.

"We're excited to see it come back again."

Contact the writer of this story at [email protected]