Three of Canada’s development Para-triathletes hopped onto the podium at the season-opening CAMTRI Para-triathlon American Championships in Sarasota, Florida on Saturday.
Jessica Tuomela and her guide Lauren Babineau, struck gold in the women’s visually impaired race while Jon Dunkerley was guided to the silver medal by James Cook in the men’s visually impaired classification. Second-year athlete, who is now training in the national program under head coach Carolyn Murray, Kamylle Frenette also finished second in the PTS5 category.
Tuomela, a Paralympic swimmer from Sault Ste. Marie, Ont., used her strenths to separate herself from the field in the 750-metre swim. Tuomela and Babineau worked together to hold off the hard-charging field for the gold medal with a time of 1:08:19.0.
Two American athletes shared the podium with the top Canuck. Elizabeth Baker finished 22 seconds back in second at 1:08:41.6. Amy Dixon won the race for the brzone medal with a time of 1:09:37.
Ottawa’s Jon Dunkerley and his guide James Cook continued the Canadian trail to the podium in the men’s visually impaired category. Dunkerley credited a strong bike for his silver-medal finish. The Canadian duo clocked a time of 1:03:01.5.
“It was a good race today,” said Dunkerley. “I had a good swim, a great bike and a decent run. I had lots left coming out of the water today, and I think a year of bike training made a big difference. We were much more in synch today. The support we have received from 94 Forward in helping us with our bikes this year has been huge. We are grateful to those guys.”
Dunkerley was sandwiched between two Americans on the podium. Aaron Scheidies set the time to beat at 59:51.8. Brad Snyder rounded out the men’s visually impaired podium with a time of 1:04:25.1.
Kamylle Frenette completed the medal hat trick for Canada’s Para-triathlon squad. Competing in just her second triathlon, the Moncton, N.B. resident who is part of the University of Moncton running team, punched the clock at 1:06:42.8.
“It was definitely better today because I knew what to expect,” said Frenette. “I felt really comfortable out there especially on the bike. I felt I had good energy and my legs were really strong. The run went okay, but I was expecting a little better.”
Frenette finished behind American Grace Norman who grabbed the top spot on the podium with a time of 1:03:29.6.
Meanwhile, Taylor Forbes was the top Canadian in the CAMTRI Sprint Triathlon American Cup race which was also held on Saturday in Sarasota.
The Hamilton, Ont. product was forced to battle from behind the whole way after a difficult 750-metre swim where he got caught up in some unfair play heading into the first buoy, finishing in fifth for the second-straight week in Florida with a time of 51:50.
“The damage was mostly done (right there), and at that point it was all about controlling the rest of my race to myself back into contention,” said Forbes.
Following the first of four laps on the 20-kilometre bike course, Forbes helped get the chase pack organized and hold their position against a powerful lead group of cylclists.
“I tried to channel a bit of that anger and frustration, and I went out hard on the run hoping to try and pull as many guys back as possible,” said Forbes, who also had a fifth-place finish last week in Clermont despite having to serve a penalty. “I have been really focused on the execution and process more than the outcome – seeing where my fitness is after the winter training block. That is what is most important.”
Three Americans swept the men’s podium. Eli Hemming was first at 51:22. Ben Kanute topped his teammate Jason West for the silver medal. Kanute stopped the clock at 51:36, while West settled for the brzone with a time of 51:39.
Charles Paquet, of Port Cartier, Que., and Alexander Hinton, of Kingston, Ont., also cracked the top-10, Paquet settled for seventh spot at 52:04, while Hinton placed 10th at 52:12.
A group of Canadian development athletes finished 15h through 20h in the women’s race. Fany Mainville was the top Canadian in 15th at 1:04:08.
Sophie Chase, of the United States, was first to reach the finish line where she stopped the clock at 58:43.