A Canadian foursome matched the country’s career-best fifth-place finish at the prestigious Triathlon Mixed Relay World Championships in Hamburg, Germany on Sunday.
Amelie Kretz (Blainville, Que.), Tyler Mislawchuk (Oak Bluff, Man.), Joanna Brown (Carp, Ont.) and Alexis Lepage (Gatineau, Que.) took to the line against 16 of the best triathlon teams on the planet on a frigid morning in Germany for the World Championship title. The Canucks proved they can be in the fight for the podium in one year’s time when the spectator-friendly race format debuts at the 2020 Summer Olympics in Tokyo after clocking a time of 1:21:08.
Canada’s 26-year-old Amelie Kretz, set the tone for the Canadians, taking the opening leg of the four-person mini-triathlon that sees each athlete complete a 300-metre swim, 7 kilometre bike ride and 1.6-kilometre run.
“I knew the swim was going to be crucial to put myself and the team in a good spot after the first leg,” said Kretz, who finished just off the back of the first four girls in the water. “I worked hard with the American girl on the bike and we were able to connect with the leaders before T2 (transition two).
“I got off the bike and my feet were completely frozen so it took me a full lap to find my run legs. I tried to catch back up on the second lap of the run to put Tyler in the best possible position.”
Kretz’s 2016 Olympic teammate, Tyler Mislawchuk, smashed his portion of the race where he posted the third-fastest leg time. Darting into the water in front of the thousands of spectators lining the waterfront and the streets of the old trading city for the world’s largest triathlon, Mislawchuk continued to prove he is one of the top triathletes in the world. The 23-year-old, who last weekend became the first Canadian male ever to medal on the World Triathlon Series, was grouped in a pack with all of the top nations before tagging off to Joanna Brown in front of the historic setting of Hamburg City Hall.
“I am so proud of our team today. I knew that we could be in contention because our team has the talent. We have all proven we can deliver under pressure and deal with the chaos in all racing situations,” said the 26-year-old Joanna Brown, who also won a bronze medal earlier this year on the World Triathlon Series.
“Everyone came together and we are so much stronger when we race for each other. This is an exciting step forward for us because we are still learning and still getting faster.”
Alexis Lepage took the anchor leg for the red and white. While the top-four nations began to pull away from the field, the 25-year-old battled to the bitter end , moving the Canucks into fifth place overall, 25 seconds off the podium pace.
“I’m really happy with the team effort. We all did a great job and were fighting as hard as we could have for the best result,” said Lepage. “The best thing about this result is we all know that we can do better and avoid a little mistake here and there. We were close to the podium today, and we will continue to work hard to make sure we master every weakness.”
Team France were crowned World Champions with an impressive time of 1:20:18. The Germans finished four seconds back to thrill the hometown crowd with a silver-medal performance, stopping the clock at 1:20:22. Australia locked up the final spot on the podium with a time of 1:20:43.
The same Canadian foursome were also fifth two years ago at the World Championships in Hamburg. A Canadian squad that included Kretz, Brown, Lepage and Mike Lori finished fourth last month in a Mixed Team Relay event in Nottingham.
Canada’s best finish at a Mixed Team World Championships came in 2009 when the team led by Simon Whitfield won the bronze in Des Moines, Iowa.
Complete World Triathlon Series Results: