By Duncan Mackay

Melissa Stockwell wins in Auckland 2012November 29 - USA Triathlon has been awarded a $50,000 (£31,000/€38,000) grant to help boost participation among military veterans as the sport gears up for its Paralympic debut at Rio in 2016, it has been announced.

The money has been awarded by US Paralympics, a division of the United States Olympic Committee (USOC), through Veterans Affairs and the United States Paralympics Integrated Adaptive Sports Programme.

It will be used to develop and host five geographically dispersed, three-day skills camps in the spring and summer of 2013 designed to bring together newly identified veteran paratriathlon recruits, experienced athletes and mentors like three-time world champion Melissa Stockwell (pictured above).

Stockwell became the first woman soldier to lose a limb in the Iraq War from a roadside bomb in 2004.

She represented the US at the 2008 Beijing Paralympics as a swimmer but then turned to triathlon and has won the world title in the Tri2 category for the last three years, including in Auckland last month.

USA Triathlon hopes to introduce at least 20 disabled veterans to the sport for the first time as a result of the camps.

Outreach activities will be planned in each of USA Triathlon's 10 regions to recruit at least two athletes per region to attend one of the five camps.

"We are thrilled and honoured to receive this grant from US Paralympics and Veterans Affairs," said USA Triathlon high performance general manager Andy Schmitz.

"This generous grant will play a key role in helping provide a healthy, competitive outlet for our nation's wounded veterans and potentially identify Paralympic hopeful athletes for 2016 and beyond."

The grant monies also will be used to provide support to high performance athletes, including providing support for a number of top triathletes to various races and high performance camps in 2013.

Contact the writer of this story at [email protected]