British paratriathlon star reveals resilience and adaptability key in quest to qualify for Paris 2024

British paratriathlete Melissa Nicholls shares her plans and preparations for the Paris Paralympic Games.

Staff Reporter
Last updated -

Despite the steep learning curve after taking up triathlon, Melissa Nicholls is determined to make it to the Paralympic Games in Paris this summer.

The British wheelchair athlete, who competed for Team GB at the London Olympics in 2012, only started racing professional paratriathlon in 2022 but has already excelled in the sport.

Now with her sights set on Paris, Nicholls shared with TRI247 her plans for the first races of the year, why adaptability is key and how she is preparing to have her best race in the French capital.

“It’s been quite a steep learning curve”

Having picked up a number of podiums and wins over the past two seasons, you could be forgiven for thinking that Nicholls was an experienced hand at short course triathlon racing.

Melissa Nicholls Great Britain Paratriathlon
Photo Credit – British Triathlon

However, despite her incredible success, the Tewkesbury native revealed that she is still very much learning her trade, with last season teaching her a lot of important lessons.

“It’s been quite a steep learning for me coming into triathlon. It seems like I’ve been doing it for quite a while now but maybe it just feels like that.” 

“Last year was definitely a year where I had to be adaptable, so that was something I have taken away.

“There were some big highs but also some lows as well, including changes to formats at some races, which just meant you had to be so flexible with your goals but it also built that resilience going forward to expect the unexpected.

“Taking the positives from last year, I have made some great gains and it was an exciting year, to know I can keep building off that into the Paralympic year.” 


“It’s been a good winter of training”

In her quest to qualify for the Paralympics, Nicholls will travel all over the world during the next few months, with a training camp in Lanzarote scheduled before the first race of the season in Abu Dhabi.

“It’s been a good winter of training and I’m heading to Lanzarote in February, where I have trained before, to get some sun and good training in on the bike especially.

“It’s been tough at times in Tewkesbury over the winter, having to do more turbo is harder but I have still tried to swim outdoors throughout the winter which has been cold but I’m hoping it will build my resilience for triathlon racing.

“My season starts in March, so it has come around pretty quickly to be honest. By the time I get back from warm weather training, I’ll have about two and a half weeks here before heading off to Abu Dhabi and Devonport in Tasmania.

“Obviously the plan between the first two races and Paris is to get as many points as possible to qualify. If I can get as many points as possible sooner, then that would be ideal because I can refocus on building for Paris. Once we come back from Tasmania, the first step really will be to reassess where we are at.” 


Planning for Paris

Nicholls shared that during her pre-season preparations, she will be doing a lot of training on the track to specifically prepare for the challenging course in Paris.

“I’ll be doing a lot of work on the track with wheelchair racing and will just try to build on the sprint side of things.

“With the Paris course being three laps, you need to be able to do a dead turn and sprint again, I’ve never been a sprinter particularly but it’s something that I need to continue working on.” 

Currently ranked World #5 in the Paralympics ranking and #7 in the Paratriathlon World Rankings, Nicholls will hope her early season training will pay off come the big day in Paris this summer.

Tomos Land
Written by
Tomos Land
Tomos Land is a triathlon & running journalist whose expertise lies in the professional world of short course & long distance triathlon, though he also boasts an extensive knowledge of ultra-running.


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