September 12, 2013, LONDON—A trio of Canadian women proved to the world the red and white will be a force to reckon with well into the future in the sport of triathlon.The female Canucks grabbed two spots on the Under-23 Triathlon World Championship podium in London on Thursday, and all three finished in the top-five.
Canada’s 20-year-old rookies Ellen Pennock and Amelie Kretz hopped onto the silver and bronze-medal steps of the World Championship podium. Pennock was bumped into second place by one second after posting a time of 1:55:39, while Kretz finished on her heels at 1:55:41. Joanna Brown, of Carp, Ont., rounded out the Canadian contingent in fifth spot at 1:55:49.
“It is incredible. I can’t believe it,” beamed Calgary’s Pennock in the finish area. “It was a great day for all of us. It was Amelie’s first race as an Under-23, and to have all three of us right there is incredible because no country had three athletes in the top 10.”
Australia’s Charlotte Mcshane held off the Canadian charge to win the under-23 title with a time of 1:55:38.
After coming out of the 1.5-kilometre swim in third spot, Pennock bounced back after crashing in the first corner of the bike course, to rejoin her Canadian teammates at the front of a large group of athletes determined to close a huge gap set by the frontrunner, Lucy Hall. First out of the water, Hall rode alone until the sixth of the seven laps on the 40-kilometre bike course that takes athletes outside Hyde Park for a tour past some of London’s most recognizable landmarks including Buckingham Palace, Wellington Arch and Constitution Hill.
“I crashed twice at my first World Juniors so I thought here we go again,” laughed Pennock while sporting a stinging road rash on her right leg and shoulder. “I just got right back on my bike and caught onto the pack. We (Canadian girls) worked awesome together on the bike. We were doing a lot of work for the pack. Joanna and Amelie are so strong. They pulled their fair share of work today.”
With the 20-year-old Brown leading the three rising stars in Canadian triathlon into the second transition area, it came down to a runners race with the Canucks among nine athletes matching stride-for-stride in the opening two trips on the three-loop run around the Serpentine of London’s vast Hyde Park.
With about 400-metres remaining on the final lap of the 10-kilometre run, it was Pennock who made the first move trying to break the lead group.
“I felt awesome on the run. I tried to bust it and pull off a Paula Findlay and run it in, but I didn’t quite have the finish,” said Pennock, who appeared to be flashing a smile while running down the finishing carpet. “My pain face is actually a smile. When I wear my sunglasses my eyes are actually saying pain, but my face is smiling.”
Edmonton’s Findlay shocked the world when she sling-shot herself around the final turn and down the finishing stretch to the winners circle in London three years ago, which was the first of her five World Triathlon Series title.
A relative newcomer to the sport, Kretz was equally impressive as Pennock, responding to her teammates surge for the charge to the finish.
“I was sixth at World Juniors last year, which was disappointing, so I came here with a goal to get on the podium,” said Kretz. “It was awesome to have all three of us Canadians there together.”
Kretz and Pennock are no strangers to sharing the international podium this year. Kretz led a Canadian sweep of the podium when she won her first World Cup start earlier this summer at the Edmonton World Cup – site of the 2014 World Triathlon Grand Final. Pennock also won the silver in that race for her first World Cup medal, while the veteran of the Canadian team, Victoria’s Kirsten Sweetland, was third.
“Edmonton is my home course now so I am really looking forward to getting back there next summer when he host the World Championships,” said Kretz. “It has been an unbelievable year to win in Edmonton and finish on the podium again today. I’m really happy.”
The Canadian women in the national program have had a great deal of success racing at the ITU’s Under-23 and Junior World Championships in recent years. Joanna Brown won bronze medals in both the 2012 Under-23, and 2010 Junior World Championships. Kirsten Sweetland also won a silver medal at the 2010 Under-23 World Championships, and was crowned Junior World Champion in 2006. And Paula Findlay first introduced herself to the world in 2009 when she captured the bronze in the Under-23 race.
Meanwhile, Alexander Hinton led the Canadian men in the under-23 class. Hinton, of Kingston, Ont., placed 13th with a time of 1:44:26. Victoria’s Matt Sharpe finished 24th with a time of 1:45:34.
Pierre Le Corre, of France, was crowned king in the under-23 division after breaking the finish tape with a time of 1:42:47. Spain’s Fernando Alarza was second at 1:42;51, while Australia’s Declan Wilson grabbed the bronze with a time of 1:42:55.
The World Championships continue on Friday with paratriathlon races, and the age group sprint distance events. The elite women hit the start line on Saturday, while the top male triathletes will complete the Grand Final on Sunday afternoon.
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.