Paratriathlete Twins Win Silver and Gold in Irish Karate Open

Paratriathlete Twins Win Silver and Gold in Irish Karate Open Paratriathlete Twins Win Silver and Gold in Irish Karate Open
Grace Fisher

27-year-old Northern Irish twins and Paratriathletes Chloe and Judith MacCombe walked away with gold and silver medals respectively in the visually impaired category at the Irish International Karate Open last weekend.

The win comes after a remarkable summer for both twins. A month and a half after Chloe won silver and Judith won bronze at the World Triathlon Para Cup A Coruna in Spain, they entered the Commonwealth games in July, where Chloe and guide Catherine Sands placed second in the women's PTVI (Para Triathlon Visual Impairment) triathlon and Judith and guide Anne Paul placed fourth. At the time Chloe celebrated the opportunity to race with her sister: "In the past we've had competitions where only one of us could go or qualify, and it's hard for the person at home. This is really special because I can share it with her and she raced brilliantly too."

Chloe and Judith were born with a form of albinism that means their vision is severely restricted. In triathlons they team up with sighted guides, and in karate competitions they compete with blindfolds (standard for the visually impaired category in Para-Karate).

It's not the first time the sisters have switched sports. They grew up doing karate, but focused on rowing in university before switching to triathlon. The one constant seems to be motivating each other — before the commonwealth games, Chloe remarked "We have always been really competitive...I think we sort of motivate each other in terms of racing. We want to beat each other but at the same time I know if Judith fell over in a race I'd feel bad for her but I'd keep running."

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"If I fell over and Chloe stopped to help me I'd be like 'Leave, go get the medal,'" added Judith.

Para-Karate is a relatively new discipline; the first world championships took place only in 2014. The Official National Amateur Karate Association of Ireland (ONAKAI) has been active in promoting inclusive karate through associated clubs.

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