It may not have been a podium finish, but Sunday’s World Championship Series result was one of the best personal victories in Canadian Brent McMahon’s career.
The 31-year-old Victoria resident had one person to beat – Portugal’s Joao Pereira – to all but officially secure Canada three Olympic men’s spots in triathlon. McMahon finished 24th after completing the punishing 1.5-kilometre swim, 40-kilometre bike and 10-kilometre run course in Madrid, Spain in a time of 1:55:39 to hold off Pereira who pushed hard on the run, before dropping back to place 28th at 1:56:05.
“At the end of the day, I needed to be one spot ahead of him – that was the mathematics,” said McMahon, who added he loved the challenging Madrid course. “The plan was to do what I do and run well off a hard bike. I didn’t run as fast as I wanted to, but I ran well enough and got the job done to secure the third spot for Canada.”
Two-time Olympic medalist, Simon Whitfield of Victoria, along with Kyle Jones, of Oakville, Ont., locked up the first two spots for Canada earlier this month based on performance over the last two years.
Britain’s Jonathan Brownlee won the men’s race with a time of 1:51:49. Russia’s Alexander Bryukhankov locked up the silver medal at 1:52:28, while Dmitry Polyanskiy, also of Russia, rounded out the podium in third after clocking a time of 1:52:54.
The personal victory for McMahon wraps up a grueling journey around the world over the past 18 months to secure Olympic points since returning to elite racing form. The 2004 Olympian had a monster task in front of him to rack up points after being sidelined for 18 months with a career-threatening knee injury.
Nothing short of remarkable, the 2004 Olympian captured his first World Cup victory, won the bronze medal at the Pan American Games, and also added three bronze medals in Continental Cup races to go along with consistently placing at the top of the pack in World Championship Series races over the last year.
“I had an exact plan coming off the injury. I wanted to have good races. I knew what had to be done and I executed it,” said McMahon. “I have been studying the mathematics of this thing for 18 months. Everyone has been talking about it, I knew today I needed to beat one guy and I did. It looks like I have secured three spots for Canada.”
“It seemed daunting after a year and a half off to make up the points I needed to qualify in such a short time, but I had a huge support team that helped me build a plan and we got it done. I had such great support from Triathlon Canada in believing in me, to my coach Lance Watson, my family, girlfriend and sponsors who all had the confidence I could do it. I can’t thank everyone enough.”
Meanwhile, Switzerland’s Nicola Spirig won the women’s race on Saturday with a time of 2:06:35. Edmonton’s Chantell Widney finished 41st (2:13:02), while Winnipeg’s Sarah-Anne Brault was 43rd (2:13:36). Vancouver’s Lauren Campbell did not finish the race.
Edmonton’s Paula Findlay’s remarkable run of five World Championship Series victories, along with Montreal’s Kathy Tremblay’s eighth-place World Championship series finish at the season-opener in Sydney, along with her first career World Cup victory the following week in Ishigaki, Japan helped Canada also secure two women’s spots at the 2012 Olympics.
Triathlon Canada will be meeting later this week to discuss the line-up of athletes they will nominate to be named to the 2012 Canadian Olympic Committee. A media announcement will be made on the team names in early June.
Created in 2009, the ITU World Triathlon Series is an innovative series that has the world’s best triathletes compete in eight races around the world. Starting in Sydney, athletes will also compete in the United States, Spain, Austria, Germany, Sweden and Japan before the Grand Final in Auckland, New Zealand.
Triathlon Canada is the governing body for triathlon in the country. Recognized as an Olympic medal sport since 2000, Triathlon Canada’s mandate is to promote, foster, organize and develop the sport of triathlon, and its related disciplines, in Canada. For more information on Triathlon Canada, please visit us at www.triathloncanada.com on the Internet.
1. Jonathan Brownlee GBR 1:51:49
2. Alexander Bryukhankov RUS 1:52:28
3. Dmitry Polyanskiy RUS 1:52:54
4. Ivan Vasiliev RUS 1:53:17
5. Alessandro Fabian ITA 1:53:24
6. Maik Petzold GER 1:53:33
7. Hirokatsu Tayama JPN 1:53:35
8. Aurélien Raphael FRA 1:53:53
9. Mario Mola ESP 1:54:23
10. Carlos Javier Quinchará Forero COL 1:54:34
24. Brent McMahon CAN 1:55:39