Tyler Mislawchuk matches career-best in 10th, Sarah-Anne Brault powers into top-15, Andrew Yorke 18th
by Chris Dornan
YOKOHAMA, Jpn—Less than one week away from her 23rd birthday, Canada’s Amelie Kretz may have delivered herself the best gift any triathlete could imagine – a ticket to compete in her first Olympic Summer Games.
The rising star from Blainville, Que. put down the race of her life when it counted most – at the final Olympic qualifying event on the World Triathlon Series in Yokohama, Japan on Saturday – with a stellar eighth-place finish while clocking a time of 1:57:53.
“It feels great. Hard work does pay off,” stated Kretz, whose previous career-best result was a ninth last summer in a WTS sprint distance race in London. “I executed the race really well today, and I believe this performance showed that I belong with the best.
“I was actually really relaxed going into the race. I just believed in my fitness, but didn’t have any expectations after a difficult beginning to the season. I just wanted to get out there and give my best effort and have fun.”
And she did just that.
Kretz was in the mix of a deep pack throughout the 1.5-kilometre, choppy two-lap swim, and was determined to keep pace with the leaders for the duration of the race.
“I finally had a good swim like I knew I could have. I was out of the water in the top-eight, and was relaxed the whole swim,” said Kretz.
After only one lap of the nine-lap, 40-kilometre tactical bike course, a massive pack tallying over 40 women was formed and it never changed, creating a chaotic entry into second transition.
“On the bike I felt great and just positioned myself smartly to avoid chaos. I got off the bike and my legs felt great, but I tried to be smart and pace myself. I also felt relaxed the whole run, and I knew I belonged up there. I stayed calm and gave my all on the last lap to get in that top-eight! I was pretty strong all around today. I am happy with how I executed my race.”
Kretz’s training partner and world number one, Gwen Jorgensen of the United States, captured her fourth straight title in Yokohama after posting a golden time of 1:56:02. Australia’s Ashleigh Gentle was second at 1:57:20, while Ai Ueda of Japan thrilled the home country crowd with a bronze-medal performance, and a time of 1:57:25.
Quebec City’s Sarah-Anne Brault also made a strong case to Triathlon Canada’s selection committee that she deserves a spot on the start line in Rio with her best result of the 2016 season.
The 26-year-old rocked a 13th-place finish with a time of 1:58:29.
“I feel like I’ve been building towards this all year. Every WTS race has been better than the last, and it’s all coming together at the right time. It’s by design, but it’s nice to have it all come together,” said Brault, who now has five, top-15 finishes on the elite triathlon circuit throughout her career.
“This race has been a big target for a while, and I’m glad I was able to deliver on the day. I was surprisingly calm before the race. In fact, someone even commented on how much I was smiling! I just knew I’d put in some good work, and I was ready to race the best in the world.”
Dominika Jamnicky, of Guelph, Ont., placed 30th (2:00:05), Victoria’s Kirsten Sweetland was 31st (2:00:09), while Edmonton’s Paula Findlay finished 32nd at 2:00:18.
Tyler Mislawchuk Leads Canadian Men in 10th
The future of Canada’s men’s triathlon is no doubt in the hands of a youngster from Oak Bluff, Man., Tyler Mislawchuk.
Focused on a top-eight finish of his own, the 21 year old matched his career-best World Triathlon Series race with a 10th-place finish after clocking a time of 1:47:15 in the Olympic distance.
“I’m pleased with the effort, but as always I’m left wanting more,” said Mislawchuk, who has three top-11 finishes this season. “I feel like I’m heading in the right direction, and keep getting closer to where I need to be. I went into today with very little outcome goals, and focused on what I could control.”
Knowing the work needed to punch a ticket of his own to Rio, Mislawchuk was in the thick of things throughout the 1.5-kilometre swim, 40-kilometre bike and dug deep to finish strong on the run. Mislawchuk ran in eighth spot for the first half of the 10-kilometre run, before dropping out of the top-10. Not going down without a fight, he picked up one more spot in his final trip around the streets of Yokohama.
Andrew Yorke, of Caledon, Ont., successfully exercised his pre-race strategy to run a negative split, moving him into a solid 18th-place finish with a time of 1:47:52.
Spain’s Mario Mola waited one lap before running away from the field to win the Yokohama stop on the World Triathlon Series. The Spaniard stopped the clock at 1:46:27. Mexico’s Crisanto Grajaeles surged into the silver-medal position in his final lap on the run, crossing the finish line with a time of 1:46:42. Norway’s Kristian Blummenfelt put down a spirited performance to secure the bronze medal with a time of 1:46:45.
Michael Lori, of Tecumseh, Ont., placed 39th (1:49:31). Kyle Jones, of Oakville, Ont., was forced to the sidelines after experiencing mechanical issues midway through the bike course.
Canada’s Olympic Qualification Process
There were two phases over the last two years for Canada’s triathletes to qualify for the 2016 Olympic Summer Games. Athletes needed a top-eight finish in the Rio Test Event or at the Grand Final in Chicago last year. Those performances needed to be backed up with another top-eight this season. If positions were not locked up after the initial phase, athletes then needed a top-eight in one of three targeted World Triathlon Series races in 2016: Abu Dhabi, Gold Coast, or in Saturday’s Yokohama race, plus a top-eight finish anywhere in the two year qualification period from May 2014 – May 2016. While no Canadians met the qualification standard, athletes will now be picked by Triathlon Canada’s selection committee.
“It feels great to know that I might be representing my country at the Olympic Games. It’s been a dream of mine since I started triathlon at the age of eight,” said Kretz, who was the only athlete to secure a top-eight finish in a targeted race. While the Team isn’t named, I think I am in a good spot right now so it feels amazing.”
The breakthrough results for Kretz and Brault may also secure Canada three spots on the women’s start line in Rio.
“I can’t describe how nice it feels to nail a good performance the same day as your teammate and training partner,” said Brault. “I was super pumped for Amelie, and as much as we were in a bit of a precarious position leading into the race, I trusted she had what it took to put in a really good performance.”
A rock all year, Mislawchuk opened the season with a 10th-place finish in Abu Dhabi, and followed that up one month later by posting an 11th place result in Australia’s Gold Coast. Mislawchuk also chalked up a 10th one year ago in London’s WTS Sprint race.
The Games was a dream of mine ever since I was kid. I hope I have done enough to make my dream a reality. Time will tell,” added Mislawchuk
Triathlon Canada, in partnership with the Canadian Olympic Committee, will officially announce the list of triathletes heading to Rio for the 2016 Games on June 9.
Top-Five Men’s Results:
1. Mario Mola, ESP, 1:46:27; 2. Crisanto Grajaeles, MEX, 1:46:42; 3. Kristian Blummenfelt, NOR, 1:46:45; 4. Jacob Birtwhistle, AUS, 1:46:50; 5. Fernando Alarza, ESP, 1:46:54.
10. Tyler Mislawchuk, Oak Bluff, Man., 1:47:15; 18. Andrew Yorke, Caledon, Ont., 1:47:52; 39. Michael Lori, Tecumseh, Ont., 1:49:31;DNF. Kyle Jones, Oakville, Ont.;
Top-Five Women’s Results:
1. Gwen Jorgensen, USA, 1:56:02; 2. Ashleigh Gentle, AUS, 1:57:20; 3. Ai Ueda, JPN, 1:57:25; 4. Andrea Hewitt, NZL, 1:57:33; 5. Charlotte Mcshane, AUS, 1:57:34
8. Amelie Kretz, Blainville, Que., 1:57:53; 13. Sarah-Anne Brault, Quebec City, 1:58:29; 30. Dominika Jamnicky, Guelph, Ont., 2:00:05; 31. Kirsten Sweetland, Victoria, 2:00:09; 32. Paula Findlay, Edmonton, 2:00:18.