Rio de Janeiro, Brazil—Three Canadians put down a spirited effort as women’s triathlon debuted at the Paralympic Games on Sunday in Rio de Janeiro.
Winnipeg’s Chantal Givens was relentless in her eighth-place finish in the PT4 classification, while two women from the nation’s capital – Christine Robbins and her guide Sasha Boulton – placed 10th in the PT5 division to round out two stellar days of competition for para-triathlon on its official introduction to the Paralympic program.
The 37-year-old Givens came out of the water in 11th spot after a challenging 750-metre swim off the shores of Copacabana Beach. A school teacher by trade, Givens was unable to pick up time on the elite field despite a solid four laps on the 20-kilometre bike along Rio’s famed coastline.
“I felt decent through the whole thing. I was disappointed to get off the bike and realize I didn’t gain anything,” said Givens, who admitted the challenging part of a triathlon for her is the swim. “I got to the (five kilometre) run and I wanted to salvage what I could of the race. I gave it everything I could and overtook three people.”
Givens finished with an eighth-place time of 1:19:13.
“This whole experience was surreal in a sense. I worked very hard to get here and earn my spot. The race itself was almost the icing on the cake for me after all the hard work that I put in. I enjoyed the moment today and every second of what I was doing.”
The top-two ranked women in the world in the PT4 division had an epic battle to the finish. In the end it was American Grace Norman pulling away for the historic gold medal with a time of 1:10:39. Lauren Steadman, of Great Britain, was second at 1:11:43. Gwladys Lemoussu, of France, locked up the bronze medal with a time of 1:14:31.
Ottawa’s Christine Robbins and her guide Sasha Boulton had been making steady progress in preparation for their Paralympic debut. The hard work paid off with one of the strongest performances of their career.
Robbins, 38, and Boulton, 22, battled through the extreme heat while stringing together solid efforts in each of the three disciplines. The Canadians placed 10th at 1:22:59.
“I feel like that was the best race that I have ever done,” said Robbins. “I died a bit at the end, but I feel like everything went great for us all day. We could have likely pushed a little harder, but we were trying to be a little bit cautious with the heat as well.”
Australia’s Katie Kelly and her guide, Michelle Jones, won the PT5 division with a time of 1:12:18. Great Britain grabbed the next two spots on the podium.
Alison Patrick and Hazel Smith were second at 1:13:20, while Melissa Reid and Nicole Walters won a sprint finish for the bronze medal with a time of 1:14:07.