SARASOTA, FL—Canada’s Joanna Brown stepped up to the start line and knocked one out of the park, winning the gold medal in the women’s CAMTRI Sprint Triathlon in Sarasota, Florida on Saturday.
Brown, of Carp, Ont., ran away from the field in the women’s sprint event, clocking a golden time of 55:36 in the 750-metre swim, 20-kilometre bike and five-kilometre run course.
“It was awesome. I just felt good to be good again,” said Brown, whose been rebuilding after a couple of years plagued with injuries. “I really didn’t know how it was going to go today. I was really nervous before the race because I didn’t know where I was at. I knew if I had a good race I could win, but there was lots of questions in my mind, and if it was a bad day it was going to be a long one.”
The 24-year-old Brown had a decent swim, coming out of the water with a string of girls just 15 seconds off the lead pace, which set her up to control the pack on the bike.
“We have been making some changes with my swim so that was a big question mark for me,” said Brown, who is working with coaches Craig Taylor and Jono Hall. “There was a huge cross wind on the bike, which made people work harder than they wanted too, and it quickly broke the pack in half to six.”
Brown took advantage of a penalty served by American Sarah True in the first lap of the run where she put her head down and hammered the pace to the golden step of the podium.
True was forced to settle for second at 55:58. Taylor Knibb, also of the United States, placed third with a time of 56:07.
“I’ve been down in Phoenix the last couple of months with Jono’s group where I have been pushed in my run training so I knew I was running pretty well,” added Brown, who has been injury free for a year. “I have been training really patient and I have a renewed excitement for training. I have had so much energy the last couple of months and I’m just amped to race.”
Dominika Jamnicky, of Guelph, Ont., grabbed the final spot in the top-five with a time of 56:40.
Meanwhile, Victoria’s Matt Sharpe continued to validate a solid winter season of training with a third-place finish in the men’s CAMTRI sprint race.
Building on an 11th-place World Cup finish in Cape Town one month ago, Sharpe was back on this side of the pond where he battled to the bronze medal on Saturday. Sharpe clocked-in at 51:14.
“I had a decent swim, not amazing, but good enough. The bike was chaotic at times with no incentive to push too hard, and the run was about as good as I could have done today so I’m proud of my effort,” said Sharpe.
“I worked my butt off on the run to hang with the leaders as long as I did. So that was quite good. In honesty, I’m pretty ticked off with third because I really wanted to win today. But the guys ahead of me were stronger on the run so hats off to them.”
Sharpe finished four seconds off the golden mark of 51:10 set by Mexico’s Rodrigo Gonzalez. Eli Hemming, of the United States, was second at 51:12.
John Rasmussen, of Ancaster, Ont., finished behind Sharpe just off the podium in fourth with a time of 51:28. Quebec City’s Alexis Lepage settled for sixth place at 51:53.
After battling through a string of injuries and setbacks for multiple seasons, the 25-year-old Sharpe has been making steady progress into a top athlete while regularly posting career-best finishes over the last 14 months. He ran to his first World Cup podium in Montreal last summer when he was second, and backed that performance up with a career-best 11th at the World Triathlon Series in Edmonton.
“It’s been a very consistent period of training under my coach Jono Hall. If I’m being honest I haven’t been the easiest athlete to deal with, so I’m very grateful he’s stuck it out with me as long as he has,” said Sharpe. “I’m trying to be better and have started making better decisions – trying to be less ego-based and that is paying off.”
Baby Canucks Win Silver and Bronze in Junior Women’s North American Championships
Canada’s Hannah Henry and Kyla Roy delivered a one-two punch in the junior women’s North American Championship race in Sarasota.
Victoria’s Henry was solid in all three legs, finishing in second spot at 59:13, while Winnipeg’s Roy won the bronze medal after crossing the line at 59:29.
“I was surprised and really happy to come out of the water with the front pack,” said Henry. “The bike started off hard and fast, but once we formed a bigger pack we slowed down a bit. I felt strong on the run and stayed with Hye Rim Jeong until she outsprinted me at the end. It feels great to start the season on the podium.”
Henry finished four seconds off the golden mark set by Korea’s Jeong who broke the finishing tape with a time of 59:09.
Roy rebounded after a slow start in the swim where she eventually edged out Bermuda’s Erica Hawley in a photo finish for the final spot on the podium.
“I had a bad start so I had to swim through a bunch of people. We weren’t working well in our pack on the bike so that was frustrating,” said Roy. “There was about a 15-metre gap behind the first two girls on the run that I was trying to close throughout the run, but I ended up in a sprint finish. I’m quite happy with the first race of the season and how my winter training has been going.”
Quebec’s Pavlos Antoniades was the lone Canadian to crack the top-10 in the junior men’s race. Antoniades finished in eighth spot at 56:04.
Darr Smith, of the United States, won the gold in the junior men’s sprint race with a time of 53:28.