March 16, 2013, Sarasota, Fla (ISN) – Canada’s Paula Findlay took a small, yet significant, step forward in her rebuild to elite form by winning the ITU Pan American Cup triathlon race on Saturday in Sarasota, Florida.
Competing in her first Olympic distance race since being mentally and physically crushed with a gut-wrenching last place finish at the 2012 Games, Canada’s favourite little red headed triathlete proved she is focused on fighting back after a solid outing on Saturday where she clocked a winning time of one hour, 57 minutes, 50.9 seconds (1:57:50.9).
“I don’t want to get ahead of myself. It was a not a huge race in the big picture, but it feels so good to win again,” said Findlay. “I’ve been dreaming of winning again, and being the one to raise the finish banner. I was at such an ultra-low that I honestly didn’t know if it would ever happen again. Ultimately I want to win much bigger races, but this is another small stepping stone in my long rebuild.”
The Edmontonian executed her race tactics to near perfection on Saturday. Coming out of the 1.5-kilometre swim in sixth spot, Findlay made her way into second out of transition two heading into the 10-kilometre run – a position that propelled her to a record five World Triathlon Series victories, earning her the title of the number-one ranked women’s triathlete on the globe.
“It was a funny race because I had a pretty good swim, and then made a break away on the bike with Alicia (Kaye) who is such a strong cyclist,” said Findlay. “That is the hardest I have ever worked on the bike. I’ve never done that before so I wasn’t sure how hard I should go on the run, but I felt good and it worked out.”
Spain’s Carolina Routier finished second at 1:58:12.3, while Vendula Frintova, of the Czech Republic, captured the bronze medal with a time of 1:48:43.8.
Findlay’s fall from the triathlon throne followed as quickly as she claimed the world’s number one label while scrambling to bounce back from her injury in time for the 2012 Games. Outside of the Olympic Summer Games, the 23 year old hit the start line for her first sprint race in more than one year last weekend in Clermont, Florida where she has been training with a fresh group of top athletes under the guidance of new coach Joel Filliol.
“The girls I used to train with were amazing and Patrick Kelly did so much for me, but things are completely different now. I’m surrounded with very professional athletes and a culture of excellence where every decision that is made is to improve performance. That is what Joel has created,” said Findlay.
But I feel I am a more mature athlete now, and accountable for what I am doing. I’m training more and better than I ever have before, but I am doing it very carefully and I feel this has done a lot for me. I still have a really long way to go though.”
In addition to Filliol, coach Craig Taylor also has a group of young Canadian women rounding into elite form. Joanna Brown, of Carp, Ont., made a charge for the podium on the run, but came up just short finishing fourth. The 20 year old, who won the bronze medal in the Under-23 race at the World Championships last fall, punched the clock at 1:58:49.5. Amelie Kretz, of Blainville, Que., placed fifth with a time of 1:59:24.4. A rookie to senior racing, Kretz won the silver medal in her first Olympic distance race last weekend at the Pan American Cup in Mazatlan.
Earlier in the day, Canada’s 24-year-old Andrew Yorke, nearly grabbed a spot on the men’s podium. The Caledon, Ont. native ran to a fourth-place finish with a time of 1:45:18.3. He was also sixth in a Pan American Cup sprint race last weekend.
“I’m feeling really good with these early season results because I’m way ahead of where I’ve been in year’s past at this point,” said Yorke. “The pieces are coming together, now I just have to do the hard specific training that is going to . I’m steadily improving and feel like I’m at a tipping point where I can really make some big jumps in the next six-to-eight months.”
Portugal’s Joao Pereira won the men’s race with a time of 1:44:33.0. Tommy Zaferes, of the United States, was second at 1:44:34.6, while Portugal’s Miguel Arraiolos snagged the bronze medal after stopping the clock at 1:45:08.4.
Two other Canadian men finished in the top 15. Ottawa’s Matt Vierula was 11th at 1:47:12.1, while Victoria’s Andrew McCartney, placed 15th (1:48:36.2).
Canada sent 15 athletes to the start line in Florida. For a complete list of results, please visit www.triathlon.org.
The World Triathlon Series gets underway in Auckland, New Zealand, April 6-7, 2013. The next step in Paula Findlay’s journey will be hitting the start line for the World Triathlon Series race in San Diego, April 19-20, 2013.
“It was really important for me to do the Olympic distance race this weekend before San Diego,” said Findlay. “The Olympic distance you just have to be prepared to hurt a little more. I was unsure if I was ready for San Diego, but winning today definitely gives me a little more confidence.”
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.
Complete Results (1.5-kilometre swim, 40 kilometre bike, 10 kilometre run): www.triathlon.org
Top-Five Women’s Results:
1. Paula Findlay, Edmonton, CAN, 1:57:50.9; 2. Carolina Routier, ESP, 1:58:12.3; 3. Vendula Frintova, CZE, 1:58:43.8; 4. Joanna Brown, Carp, Ont., CAN, 1:58:49.5; 5. Amelie Kretz, Blainville, Que., CAN, 1:59:24.4
Top-Five Men’s Results:
1. Joao Pereira, POR, 1:44:33.0; 2. Tommy Zaferes, USA, 1:44:34.6; 3. Miguel Arraiolos, POR, 1:45:08.4; 4. Andrew Yorke, Caledon, Ont., CAN, 1:45:18.3; 5. Conor Murphy, IRL, 1:45:41.5