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Sweetland Shines in Chicago

Credit: Delly Carr/ITU :2014 Mooloolaba ITU Triathlon World Cup
Credit: Delly Carr/ITU :2014 Mooloolaba ITU Triathlon World Cup

Kirsten Sweetland edged closer towards taking that elusive first step onto a World Triathlon Series podium after putting together a season-best seventh-place finish on Saturday in Chicago.

The pint-sized 25 year old was an absolute machine on the bike course, bouncing back from a difficult 1.5-kilometre swim in the choppy waters of Lake Michigan, to get into the podium hunt. Fighting through a hot, four-lap run down Columbus Drive in the Windy City, the Victoria resident clocked a time of 1:57:08.

Sweetland put on a clinic while cycling eight times around Chicago’s famous downtown core for the 40-kilometre bike course that featured long straightaways and hairpin turns. Coming out of the first transition well back of the leaders in the chase group, the gutsy Sweetland hammered the pedals to bridge the gap into a lead group of 12 riders where she was often at the front, controlling the pace with Australia’s Emma Moffat as the top women’s triathletes on the planet biked through sunny then cloudy and rainy conditions.

“I had an especially rough swim and found myself a lot further back than I would have like,” said Sweetland, who was also seventh this year in Cape Town. “I had to bike pretty hard and corner fairly aggressively to catch on. Our pack was working pretty well and we kept pace right through to the end. A minute lead is never a bad thing!”

With the lead group entering the second transition holding a gap of just over one minute on the chase pack, Sweetland showed huge progress on her run while mixing it up with the world’s best until the final three kilometres where she was running in fourth place. Sweetland, who has a handful of World Cup medals but has never mounted a World Triathlon Series podium, settled for seventh as the pace eventually became too much despite the gutsy effort.

“I felt so good starting the run, but I started to overheat fairly quickly”, said Sweetland, who also has a fifth- and sixth-place finish in her career on the World Triathlon Series.

“I have fainted before the line a few times (in my career) so I respected this and tried to time it so I collapsed after the line which is what I did. I have to be really happy with today.”

American Gwen Jorgensen became the most accomplished women’s triathlete after winning her sixth World Triathlon Series race in front of the hometown crowd. In the chase pack for the entire bike leg, the new queen of women’s triathlon made up over one minute on the field during the run to post a winning time of 1:55:33. Canada’s Paula Findlay and Australia’s Emma Moffat are the only two women to have won five World Triathlon Series races.

Helen Jenkins, of Great Britain, finished 20 seconds off the pace set by Jorgensen to claim the silver medal at 1:55:53. Japan’s Juri Ide ran to the bronze-medal step of the podium with a time of 1:56:00.

Canada’s Joanna Brown had a difficult outing, placing 29th. The 21 year old, of Carp, Ont., crossed the finish line with a time of 2:02:44.

The men’s elite World Triathlon Series race takes place on Sunday in Chicago. Andrew Yorke, of Caledon, Ont., and Kyle Jones, of Oakville, Ont., will suit up for the Canucks.


Canada’s paratriathletes shine in Chicago

Earlier in the day, Canada’s paratriathletes continued their stellar start to the 2014 season, combining to win three medals at the ITU Paratriathlon race in Chicago.

Earning precious qualifying points for the World Championships, Calgary’s Stefan Daniel ran to his second straight gold medal in the men’s PT4 arm impairment division. The 17-year-old Daniel, who also won a bronze medal at the 2013 World Championships, clocked a golden time of 1:03:07 in the 750-metre swim, 20-kilometre bike and five-kilometre run course.

Chris Hammer, of the United States, placed second at 1:05:25, while Australia’s Jack Swift grabbed the bronze with a time of 1:08:06. Nelson Flamand, of St-Hubert, Que., narrowly missed his first podium finish after placing fourth at 1:18:52.

Canadian paratriathletes also grabbed two silver medals in Chicago. Ottawa’s David Blair won the silver in the men’s PT5 visually impaired category. A paratriathlon rookie, Blair and his Quebec-based guide Pierre-Yves Gigou, won their first career medal with a time of 1:09:56. Blair was a member of Canada’s 2012 Paralympic rowing squad.

American Aaron Scheidies won the classification with a time of 1:07:03. Italy’s Maurizo Romeo rounded out the PT5 podium after posting a bronze-medal time of 1:10:52. Ryan Van Praet, of Chatham, Ont., and his guide, Syd Trefiak of Port Perry, Ont., finished just off the podium in fourth at 1:12:52.

Ottawa’s Christine Robbins and her guide Lindsay Los, crossed the line second in the women’s visually impaired category (PT5) which consisted of three athletes. The Canadian duo won their second silver in as many races this year after stopping the clock at 1:28:41. American Patricia Walsh won the classification with a golden time of 1:21:56.

Winnipegers, Chantal Denholm (PT4) and Kim Fawcett (PT2), both suited up in the women’s races, but did not finish.


From Triathlon Canada