Triathlete from Kraljevica Antonio Franko won fifth place at the Paralympic Games: “I did my best”

TOKYO Croatian Paralympian Antonio Franko (28) won an excellent fifth place in triathlon at the Paralympic Games in Tokyo.

It was the premiere performance of a Croatian triathlon athlete in the history of the Paralympic Games.

The triathlon was held in Odaiba Marine Park, and Franco achieved a result of 1: 05.49 after 750 meters of swimming, 20 km of cycling and 5 km of running, 5:51 minutes behind the winner, the Frenchman Alexis Hanquinquant.

The second was the Japanese Hideki Uda (+3.47), while the bronze was won by the Spaniard Alejandro Sanchez (+4.26). In front of Frank was the Chinese Jiacho Wang (+4.56).

“I can be satisfied with the fifth place, I did my best, at this moment I couldn’t have done better. From the beginning to the end, it was a great fight in this difficult time, “said the 28-year-old triathlete from Kraljevica, a member of the Rijeka club Rival.

After the swimming section, Franco was fifth, with only two seconds behind the third place, he “danced” on the bike between the fifth and seventh position, and in the last section he broke through to the fifth place, which he kept until the end.

Due to the high heat, the start of the race was at 6.30 local time. The temperature was already around 29 degrees Celsius with 80 percent humidity.

The water was hot, around 28, 29 degrees, so I was still looking for the first lap on the bike and chasing the feeling. I started running great, I immediately passed the American, I started to strengthen, but unfortunately after the second lap in one turn I slipped and fell. The sheet on the prosthesis was slightly bent, after that I couldn’t strengthen it anymore, but I kept it from breaking completely so that I wouldn’t have to give up.”

Antonio, who was born with aplasia of the right fibula and ligaments of the right knee, ie a shortening of the leg by 6 cm, won the placement in Tokyo by collecting points in the past two years. A great success is the placement on the POI.

“It was very difficult to win a place among the top 10 who performed in Tokyo. Until the last moment, no one was safe except the Frenchman Hanquinquant. Everyone else could have been eliminated until the last race, ”he said, adding that he enjoyed his first Paralympic performance.

“The feeling was fantastic, like in no other race. I really enjoyed it from start to finish.”

Franko added that even before the race it was known who would win the gold. The Frenchman could only be stopped on the way to victory by some accident. At one point he even fell while running, but everything went smoothly and in the end the three-time world and three-time European champion celebrated convincingly.

“We stayed here somewhere, we all beat each other, depending on the race, but no one has beaten him for four years. He dominates and is really a class above, ”said Franko, who won his first medal in paratriathlon, a bronze medal, at the 2017 World Cup in Altafulla, Spain, and his biggest success was a bronze medal at the 2019 European Championships in Valencia.

Franko has been in parasport for 19 years, and our most trophy-winning Paralympian Milka Milinović played a big role in that, winning eight Paralympic medals and competing in 10 POIs.

“As a kid, I did swimming, then boxing, and I didn’t see myself in parasport. But Milka kept persuading me. At 19 I decided to give it a try and after a year of paragliding I started doing paratriathlon and I found myself in it great.

Franko is currently graduating from the Faculty of Kinesiology, and is also the fitness coach of the football players and basketball players of Kraljevica, of course when the time allows, because training is a priority. Coach Hrvoje Vlahović was also satisfied with his performance.

“I am satisfied with the fifth place that Franco won. We expected a fight between second and seventh place, in the end the golden mean fell out. This is the first time that we had a representative in triathlon at the Paralympic Games, this is the first time that Antonio competed in such a big competition in full readiness because he was injured at the last World Championships and could not show how much he is worth,” said Vlahovic.

“Among the top ten triathletes, Franco was fifth and I don’t think we have anything to regret,” he added.

Vlahovic will point out that the trail was very fast.

“It was a relatively simple trail and there were no big climbs, however technically there were a couple of sharp turns on the bike section that one had to be careful about. But, all in all, it was a fast track, “Vlahović emphasized.

Source: Novi List, Saturday, August 28, 2021.