Para-triathlete Jack Howell knows he’s more than just the bloke missing a hand


Para-triathlete Jack Howell is the Commonwealth Games Australia (CGA) Emerging Athlete of the Month for March after a strong performance saw him snare his first win on the World Para-Triathlon Series.

The 21-year-old was the first to exit the water in the seven-man PTS5 competition and didn’t relinquish his lead for the rest of the race, finishing in a time of one hour and 39 seconds.

Just 20 seconds in front of Hungarian Bence Mocsari when he started the five-kilometre run to the finish line, he produced a field-best time of 16 minutes and 35 seconds to secure his win.

Howell, who suffers from a congenital hand anomaly called symbrachydactyly, is missing his entire hand from the wrist down on his left arm.

His competing as an athlete on the international stage shows that this is no barrier for the young man from Berwick, Victoria.

“The underlying muscles, tendons, ligaments, and bones are all affected in the left arm from the shoulder down,” Howell said.

“In triathlon, this affects my ability to swim and my control on the bike. I have a custom cup on the handlebars of my bike to stabilise my wrist, with a single brake control unit imported from Spain.”

Howell was selected to compete in the Paris 2024 para-triathlon test event last year, and as the course that will welcome the world in just over 100 days’ time, he looks back on it as his proudest achievement.

“To have the opportunity to line up with the best in the world was a testament to the hard work I have put in over the years and my potential to perform well at the upcoming Games.”



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But the 20-year-old is not just focused on his career as a triathlete.

Howell is currently studying a Bachelor of Education with aspirations to one day become a primary school physical education teacher. He also serves as an ambassador for the Dylan Alcott Foundation, Variety Children’s Charity, and the Sport Excellence Scholarship Fund.

He’s no stranger to an award either, winning scholarships from the Sport Australia Hall of Fame (SAHOF), Green and Gold Athletes and the Phillips Foundation.

“I am honestly so surprised and honoured to be selected by Commonwealth Games Australia for the Emerging Athlete of the Month. I am just doing what I do in my daily training and loving every minute.”

Howell has a busy year coming up, with his focus being the Paris 2024 Paralympic Games.

He is currently ranked fourth in the world for the PTS5 para-triathlon category and needs to remain in the top-nine to ensure his start at the Paralympic Games.

For Howell, connecting with the wider triathlon community between competitions and travel helps to drive his development, with that focus on connection on full display an Australian team camp in November last year.

The AusTriathlon camp, which ran with assistance from the Green2Gold2Great Program, brought together Australia’s elite able-bodied and para triathletes for the first time.

Howell said he loved the opportunity to share, connect and support each other.

“Growing up as a junior triathlete, I was training and racing with my able body peers. This inclusive environment proved to be an inspiration and learning benefit to my squad mates while helping me to learn the sport, belong, and be supported,” Howell said.

“It was absolutely fantastic to see the same principles applied at the AusTriathlon Camp.”

Making the move up to the Gold Coast to continue his training has also helped his Paralympic Games aspirations.

Preparing under Brendan Sexton, Howell’s “general principles of swim, bike, run” are still the same, but there is a bigger focus on the one-percenters that will get him to the next level.

The countless hours of training seem to be paying off, but Howell knows he couldn’t have done it without his parents and the strong support network that surrounds him.

“A large part of my success so far is owed to my triathlon mates and coaches over the years. They took the time to teach me the basics and have always seen me as Jack and not just the bloke missing a hand.”

Howell’s next major competition is the World Triathlon Para Series event in Yokohama, Japan on the 11th of May as he ramps up heading towards the Paris Paralympics.

The Commonwealth Games serves as a platform for developing the future stars of Australian sport and the Emerging Athlete of the Year forms part of a refreshed Awards and Honours program developed by the CGA Heritage and Awards Committee.

The CGA Emerging Athlete of the Year Award celebrates the next generation of Australian sport stars and those that may make an impact for Australia at major sport events in the future.

Over the course of 2024, an athlete will be recognised each month as the Emerging Athlete of the Month and will receive a $500 contribution towards their training and competition expenses.

Three finalists from the monthly winners will then split a $7000 cash prize, with the winner receiving $5000 and the two runners-up $1000 respectively.



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