GOLD COAST, Aus.—Canada’s Joanna Brown will leave the World Triathlon Series race in Australia’s Gold Coast wondering what could have been after a 22nd place effort.
A preview of next year’s Commonwealth Games course, the 24-year-old Brown battled through high winds, a chaotic swim and bike – not to mention the flu bug heading into her first World Triathlon Series start to clock a time of 59:29 in the sprint distance format.
“I am happy but I am nowhere close to satisfied. I know how I was feeling today and that I didn’t race to my fitness, but I did the best with the energy that I had,” said Brown. “I picked up a stomach bug two days before the race which left me in the fetal position and had really low energy. Yesterday I would have just been happy to finish, but my coach Jono Hall, pushed me to stay positive and keep my head in it as long as I could. I did the best with the energy I had.”
Brown showed positive signs once diving into the water for the 750-metre swim.
“I was dead centre in the swim, which made for some chaos, but I’m not uncomfortable with a bit of contact. The chop in the swim coming back gave you the sensation that you were moving backwards, but somehow I made it to the exit. I pushed hard to the finish of the swim and came out as close to the front as I have ever been in a WTS,” said Brown.
“I was really happy with the swim. It gave me momentum to get to the front of the bike as soon as I could. I used the technical sections to my advantage to catch up so quickly.”
Brown, of Carp, Ont., bolted to the front of the pack for the 20-kilometre bike course where she sat in sixth spot heading into the bell lap.
“The wind was the biggest factor today and it played a role in every leg of the race. It would have been great to see some of the ladies use the wind to their tactical advantage on the bike, but it just seemed to be chaos all day,” added Brown.
With a large group of 30 women stampeding into transition two, heavy legs and heat got the best of Brown on the five-kilometre run where the fastest women in the world pulled away from her.
Andrea Hewitt, of New Zealand, won her second straight World Triathlon Series race in as many starts. The Kiwi broke the finish tape with a time of 58:03. Australia’s Ashleigh Gentle clocked-in at 58:07 for second place. Japan’s Juri Ide rounded out the women’s podium in third spot at 58:12.
Brown had high hopes heading into the Gold Coast event. She won her season-opening CAMTRI Sprint Triathlon race in Sarasota, Florida one month ago before capturing the first World Cup podium of her career last weekend in New Plymouth, New Zealand when she celebrated the silver medal.
“Everything is just the tiniest bit quicker in a World Triathlon Series race – the starts are faster and the transitions allow for no margin of error. I would have loved to be feeling 100 per cent today because I think I could have been in it for the run instead of just trying to get my legs to move. I’m excited to keep taking things one race at a time, keep training, learning and chipping away,” said Brown.
Matt Sharpe was the lone Canadian to suit up in the 48-man field for the men’s race. A member of Triathlon Canada’s National Performance Centre in Victoria where he is also coached by Jono Hall, Sharpe was in good position on the 20-kilometre bike before crashing where he sustained an injury to his upper body, forcing him to pull out of the race.
“I was in the front group and crashed out on the second lap,” said Sharpe. “Having crashed last weekend in New Plymouth, I was frustrated to say the least. I will need to take some time to recover, but I already have my sights set on the National Championships in Ottawa.”
Spain’s Mario Mola ran his way to the top of the men’s podium with a time of 52:35. Richard Murray, of South Africa, finished four seconds off the leading pace in second at 52:39, while Fernando Alarza was third after stopping the clock at 52:44.