by Chris Dornan
March 15, 2014, MOOLOOLABA, Aus. (ISN) – Canada’s Ellen Pennock flexed her muscles against many of the world’s best triathletes and finished fourth at the season-opening World Cup race in Mooloolaba, Australia on Saturday.
One of the rising Canadian stars in the sport of triathlon at just 21 years of age, Pennock took on the world’s best and one of the toughest sprint courses on the globe in Australia to clock a fourth-place time of one hour, 00 minutes, 25 seconds (1:00:25).
“I was really focused on nailing some key processes in the race and the result followed today,” said Pennock. “I’ve surprised myself with the amount of training I’ve been able to handle during the offseason, and everything just felt fluid today.”
After a solid swim, and the quickest transition time onto the bike, Calgary’s Pennock held her own through to the finish line with a number of the biggest names in the sport.
The United States grabbed the first two spots on the women’s podium. Three-time World Triathlon Series winner last year, Gwen Jorgensen, finished on top with a time of 59:55. Katie Hursey ran to the silver medal with a time of 1:00:10. Japan’s Ai Ueda locked up the bronze medal with a time of 1:00:14.
“The result today definitely boosts my confidence, and gives me a sense of belonging with these top girls,” added Pennock, who has only had a handful of World Cup starts in just three years of racing on the senior development squad. Her best World Cup finish came last year when she was second in Edmonton.
Joining Pennock on the podium in Edmonton was 25-year-old Kirsten Sweetland. A winner of the Mooloolaba World Cup in 2009, the Victoria resident is building from a solid campaign last summer in her return to elite racing after battling injuries over the last three years. Sweetland was back in the mix on Saturday, finishing seventh with a time of 1:00:52.
“Today was a great way to start the season! I felt strong throughout the entire race so I’m really happy with that as a starting point,” said Sweetland. “This race is always very telling of fitness as it is a demanding course and a competitive field.”
Speaking of returns, Edmonton’s Paula Findlay was back on a World Cup start line for the first time in three years while battling injury. With more run training required to match stride with the best in the world, Findlay took a major step forward in Australia with a respectable 17th-place finish (1:02:25).
“Gotta start somewhere,” said Findlay, who won five World Triathlon Series races before facing a nagging hip injury. “Being back racing is a small victory for me, but I’ve got a lot of running to do.”
Meanwhile, Kyle Jones was the lone Canadian in the men’s sprint race. The 2012 Olympian, and veteran of the Canadian squad, placed 22nd with a time of 55:56.
“These sprint races are fast and furious which is good preparation for the World Triathlon Series. That is the focus,” said Jones. “I would have liked to finish a bit better today, but it wasn’t too bad considering it was the first race of the year. I’m hoping to go a little better next weekend and then be ready to really hit it in Auckland.”
Spain’s Mario Mola definitely hit it on Saturday, pulling away form the field on the run to win the men’s race with a time of 54:18. South Africa’s Richard Murray was second at 54:37, while Switzerland’s Sven Riederer posted a bronze-medal winning time of 55:04.
The World Triathlon Series begins in Auckland, New Zealand, April 5-6, 2014.
For complete coverage of the Mooloolaba World Cup, please visit www.triathlon.org. Live video coverage from Mooloolaba will also be available on race days at triathlonlive.tv.
Triathlon Canada is the governing body for triathlon in the country. Recognized as an Olympic medal sport since 2000 and Paralympic medal sport as of 2016, 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 ITU World Cup Results (750m swim, 20km bike, 5km run): www.triathlon.org
Top-Five Women’s Results:
1. Gwen Jorgensen, USA, 59:55; 2. Katie Hursey, USA, 1:00:10; 3. Ai Ueda, JPN, 1:00:14; 4. Ellen Pennock, Calgary, CAN, 1:00:25; 5. Andrea Hewitt NZL, 1:00:32
Other Canadian Results:
7. Kirsten Sweetland, Victoria, 1:00:52; 17. Paula Findlay, Edmonton, 1:02:25
Top-Five Men’s Results:
1. Mario Mola, ESP, 54:18; 2. Richard Murray, RSA, 54:37; 3. Sven Riederer, SUI, 55:04; 4. David Hauss, FRA, 55:07; 5. Kaleb Vanort, USA, 55:08.
22. Kyle Jones, Oakville, Ont., 55:56.