2021 Triathlete of the Year countdown: Junior Woman
Canadian NCAA champion a pre-med student at San Francisco UniversityPhoto by: KEVIN MACKINNON
It is a tribute to the depth and talent of our junior women in Canada that despite winning the NCAA title this year, Kira Gupta-Baltazar wasn’t a shoe-in for our junior Triathlete of the Year title. That’s not taking anything away from the woman from Kleinburg, Ont. – it is simply acknowledging the impressive season one of her national teammates, Noemie Beaulieu, enjoyed this year.
Gupta-Baltazar continued what has become a Canadian tradition with her win at the NCAA Championships in Tempe, Arizona last November – Canadian women have won the four NCAA Championships races that have been held, with Arizona State University winning all four team titles as well.
Gupta-Baltazar takes NCAA Championship, ASU nets fifth-straight national title
Gupta-Baltazar took the NCAA win over another Canadian, Hannah Henry. Two weeks before that Gupta-Baltazar won the college national championship qualifier in St. George, Utah, then finished 17th at the World Triathlon Junior Championships in Portugal the following weekend, meaning she competed in three major events in 15 days, with a cross-Atlantic trip to deal with as well.
The same weekend Gupta-Baltazar was winning the qualifying race in St. George, Beaulieu, who will have another year of junior competition ahead of her, took the junior title at the Americas Triathlon Championships in St. George, with yet another speedy Canadian junior, Sophia Howell, finishing second in that race.
At the world championships in Quarteira, Portugal, Gupta-Baltazar and Howell were amongst the leaders coming out of the 750-m swim, but by the end of the 20-km bike Beaulieu had joined them at the front as a group of 26 women hit the 5 km run course together. Germany’s Julie Behrens would blast through a 16:54 run to take the title, with Gupta-Baltazar finishing 17th, Beaulieu 21st and Howell 24th. Other Canadians in the race included Isla Britton (30th) and Maira Carreau (34th).
KOS to national team
A long-time national-level swimmer, Gupta-Baltazar first started doing triathlons at the Caledon KOS series as a youngster. At 15 she turned her sights to triathlon, working with Barrie Shepley at the Canadian Cross Training Club (C3) and quickly moving up the ranks of the triathlon scene. Were it not for the pandemic preventing Canadians from competing at the 2020 world championships, Gupta-Baltazar would likely have represented Canada at four world championship events – she was part of the 2018 worlds team at the Gold Coast, Australia, in 2018, then raced at the 2019 worlds in Lausanne, Switzerland, before rounding out her junior career with the race in Portugal.
Here at Triathlon Magazine Canada we were first introduced to Gupta-Baltazar’s impressive talent when she won the Ontario Summer Games triathlon title – you can click on the link below to see our video interview with her after she took the win in London, Ont., in 2018.
Gupta-Baltazar is a sophomore at the University of San Francisco (USF), where she’s a pre-med student. She led her USF team to a runner-up finish at the NCAA championships, posing a real challenge to the domination ASU has enjoyed in the NCAAs over the last four years.
All of which lends itself to an exciting few years for Gupta-Baltazar as she makes the move to U23 racing and a run for the Olympics in 2024.