This weekend the world’s top ITU athletes are in South America for … take a deep breath if you’re reading this out loud … the 2015 Rio de Janeiro ITU World Olympic Qualification Event, and if anyone deserves a bit of luck heading into Sunday’s race, it’s Kyle Jones.
Jones is just one of the three men who will be representing Canada in this stacked field – he’s joined by fellow Pan Am Games competitors Andrew Yorke and Tyler Mislawchuk.
On the women’s side of things Canada will be represented by Paula Findlay, Sarah-Anne Brault and Kirsten Sweetland, who has back after dealing with a parasite for the last few months.
Technical Bike Course
Based on his season so far, it would be great if the biking gods would give Jones a bit of a break on Sunday on what is likely to be a challenging, tough and technical bike course. The 30-year-old from Welland suffered a bike crash during a world cup event in March, breaking his tail bone. Then, at the Pan Am Games an athlete knocked a cone into his front wheel, puncturing his tire and damaging his fork and headset, putting him out of the race. All this as he comes back from surgery last fall.
A great race in Rio, though, would put all that frustration behind him. Jones represented Canada at the Olympics in 2012 and would dearly love to get to Rio next summer.
A top result in Rio will net Canada a guaranteed spot in Rio (the top three finishers earn their country a spot), while a top-eight finish would also serve as a qualification standard for the Canadian team.
All of which will be a challenge for Jones, Yorke and Mislawchuk considering the stacked field that includes pretty much all the top ITU contenders except Olympic bronze medalist Jonathan Brownlee.
After dealing with injuries for a few years after the 2012 Olympics, Paula Findlay has steadily been getting back to form under the guidance of coach Siri Lindley. Findlay is dealing with a “niggling” knee injury according to her coach, but is on her way back to top form. Joining the four-time WTS champ on the start line in Rio is last year’s Commonwealth silver medalist, Kirsten Sweetland, who has been MIA from the race scene for much of this year thanks to a parasite. Rounding out the Canadian contingent is Sarah-Anne Brault, who was ninth in Auckland earlier this year, so is no stranger to high-end racing.
Like the men the women have their work cut out for them to try and earn an Olympic spot this weekend thanks to the stacked field led by American Gwen Jorgensen (who is on track for a mind-boggling 12th straight win this weekend).