Paula Findlay Builds on Comeback Story with Hometown Grand Final

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August 30, 2014

Edmonton’s Paula Findlay Builds on Comeback Story with Hometown Grand Final
Alexis Lepage, Tyler Mislawchuk race into top-10 in U23 men’s race

(ISN) – EDMONTON—It was her first elite race in her hometown, and Paula Findlay gave her
fans – and herself – a lot to cheer about, finishing 15th in the ITU World Triathlon
Grand Final at William Hawrelak Park on Saturday.

“I’m very happy. This was such a great race – I actually caught glimpses of my old
self,” said Findlay, who was added to the Grand Final startlist just two weeks ago
following a difficult four years of battling injuries, including a stress fracture
in her hip this past March. “Racing at home is like a once in a lifetime
opportunity, and I tried to savour every moment. There were deafening cheers, and so
cool to hear ‘Paula, Paula, Paula’ all over the course.”

Racing her first Olympic distance and 10-kilometre run at the elite level since the
2012 Olympic Summer Games in London, Findlay overcame her own uncertainty in her run
fitness to cross the finish line in 2:02:10. All smiles in the finish area, Findlay
was quick to acknowledge the impact of new coach Siri Lindley on her performance.

“She makes me fearless. She believes in me, which makes me believe in myself,” the
redhead said of Lindley, who won the 2001 world championship race, also hosted in
Edmonton.

Teammates Sarah-Anne Brault (Quebec City) and Kirsten Sweetland (Victoria) were
unable to finish the race. Brault lacked the energy to complete the swim following a
long season. Meanwhile, a disappointed Sweetland, who was ranked fifth in the world
heading into Saturday’s race, saw a resurgence of a stomach bug she’d been battling
earlier in the week and pulled out during the bike portion.

“I thought I’d be okay, but when you get to that per cent effort, any illness comes
out,” said Sweetland, who dismounted her bike in tears. “I had a great start – one
of the best of my careers, but within a few strokes I knew I was battling. I was
being passed on the second lap of the swim. I tried, I really tried. It’s really
hard, but it’s completely out of your control.

“I haven’t finished – or started – a world championship since 2010. If you’d asked
me at the beginning of the season if I’d be in this position at the final race, I
would never have imagined I’d progressed this fast,” said Sweetland, whose stellar
season marks a turning point in a career plagued with injury.

Despite the DNF, Sweetland finishes the season ranked ninth in the world.

The USA’s Gwen Jorgensen showed fans just why she has earned the top ranking,
overcoming a significant deficit leading into the 10K run to overtake and beat the
leaders, clocking in at 2:00:05. New Zealand’s Andrea Hewitt, who led most of the
race, finished second in 2:00:21, and fellow Kiwi Nicky Samuels was third in
2:00:31.

The final World Triathlon Series rankings for 2014 saw Jorgensen maintain her
commanding lead as the top-ranked elite woman with 5,085 points. American Sarah
Groff, who finished Saturday’s race in 4th, finished the season ranked second with
3,987 points, while Hewitt logged 3,845 points for third.

Lepage, Mislawchuk end rookie Under-23 season with top-10 finishes
Under chillier conditions Saturday morning, the U23 men competed to crown their 2014
world champion – France’s Dorian Coninx, who finished in 1:53:06. Great Britain
triathletes Marc Austin and Gordon Benson finished second and third, respectively,
in 1:53:20 and 1:53:30.

For top Canadian finishers Alexis Lepage (Quebec) and Tyler Mislawchuk it was a
story of broken spokes. The duo both took a more conservative approach in the bike
portion, staying towards the back of the lead pack, and successfully avoided
disaster.

“It meant I started the run on fresh legs,” said Lepage of the mishap. “It’s my
first year racing U23, so I’m very happy. It’s really good for [Tyler and I] to
finish seventh and eighth; we can still learn a lot.”

Mislawchuk, who also overcame a wave of nausea on the bike portion after swallowing
some water during the swim, attributes his growth this season to Triathlon Canada
High-Performance Director Libby Burrell, and the resources that allowed him to
immerse himself in triathlon at a high-performance level while living and training
with some of the world’s best in Spain.

“Libby has stepped up the whole game, taking it to the next level,” said the Oak
Bluff, Manitoba native who just turned 20.

An overall strong finish for Canada also saw Alexander Hinton (Kingston, Ont.) as
the 19th competitor to cross the line, clocking in at 1:55:44, while teammate Taylor
Forbes’ time of 2:02:50 put him in 37th position.

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