COZUMEL, Mex.—Charles Paquet became just the fifth Canadian ever to run onto the podium in junior triathlon racing at the World Championships.
The 19-year-old reigning Canadian junior champ emptied the tank while battling through intense heat to win the silver medal at the premiere junior triathlon race on the globe in Cozumel, Mexico on Friday evening.
Paquet, of Port Cartier, Que., clocked a time of 54:12 in the 750-metre swim, 20-kilometre bike and wrapped it up with a first lap surge in a punishing five-kilometre run.
“It was pretty hard out there. About two kilometres on the run I started really feeling the heat and my quads were getting really tired,” said Paquet. “I was expecting to be on the podium today, and to be second place I am very happy with that.”
Paquet, who has a gold and bronze medal in international junior racing this year, controlled the pace while working the front of the pack for much of the flat – yet technical – bike course.
“The first lap was very hard, and then there was so many people so I tried to just stay up front and push the pace. The heat made things so difficult. I tried my best to stay cool,” added the rising Canadian star.
Paquet executed his tactics to near perfection. Carrying a 50-metre lead over Austin Hindman of the United States onto the final lap of the run wasn’t enough in the final charge for gold.
“I knew Austin was coming. I was so happy to be in first. Austin was the faster athlete today, but I am pretty happy to be on the podium,” said Paquet.
Hindman broke the finishing tape with a winning time of 54:02. Ben Dijkstra, of Great Britain, finished eight seconds back of Paquet to secure the bronze medal with a time of 54:20.
Paquet becomes the first Canadian triathlete since Joanna Brown’s bronze in 2010 to medal at the Junior World Championships. Other Canadians to medal at the prestigious event include: Kirsten Sweetland (gold in 2006), Kirstie Otto (bronze in 1992), and Erik Myllamaki (gold in 1991).
Oliver Blecher, of Port Hope, Ont., also had a solid outing on Friday night, clocking-in at 54:28 for sixth place. Victoria’s Brennen Smith placed 51st at 58:54.
A young 16-year Desirae Ridenour matched Blecher’s sixth-place result while leading a trio of Canadians against the top junior women in the world on Friday.
Ridenour, of Cowichan Bay, B.C., took advantage of a strong swim where she came out of the water in the top-five to set herself up for a solid bike and run. Fighting through the high heat and challenging track, the junior Canadian women’s champion posted a time of 1:00:02.
Taylor Knibb, of the United States, handily won the junior women’s race with a time of 59:05. Germany’s Lisa Tertsch was second at 59:41, while Korea’s Hye Rim Jeong was 45 seconds off the pace in third at 59:50.
Victoria’s 16-year-old Hannah Henry also enjoyed a solid outing in her first trip to Junior Worlds. Henry cracked the top-15, placing 12th at 1:00:38. Winnipeg’s 17-year-old Kyla Roy rounded out the Canadian contingent in 23rd spot with a time of 1:02:05.
The World Triathlon Grand Final continues throughout the weekend with elite and under-23 women’s races.