Canada’s Paratriathlon squad celebrated two trips to the top step of the World Cup podium on Saturday at the 2020 Paralympic course in Tokyo, Japan.
Calgary’s Stefan Daniel continued his unbeaten streak in 2019 after winning the men’s standing classification. The newly formed duo of Jessica Tuomela (Sault Ste. Marie, Ont.) and Montreal’s Marianne Hogan teamed up for their first career World Cup victory together in the women’s visually impaired race.
Due to high levels of E-Coli at the Odaiba Bai in the water quality test, the Tokyo Paratriathlon World Cup stop was changed to a duathlon format that consisted of a 2.5-kilometre run, followed by 20 kilometres on the bike and a final five-kilometre run.
“It was a bit of a shock the race was changed to a duathlon, but we all just wanted to check out the venue here, and we were still able to do that with this race so we are all looking forward to racing it next year,” said Daniel.
Canada’s silver medallist from the 2016 Paralympics is serving notice he is the man to beat heading into the Grand Final and on the road to Tokyo 2020 after smashing his top rivals in the Paralympic Test Event. The 22-year-old Daniel battled through the blazing heat to a winning time of 53:17.
“The (duathlon) caused a change of tactics a bit, but I wanted to race aggressively like I always do,” added Daniel. “I knew George (Peasgood) and (Martin) Schulz were going to come after me on the bike so I just tried to hold steady and move on the second run.”
The reigning Paralympic gold medallist, Martin Schulz of Germany, was the next best finisher more than two minutes off the pace at 55:24. George Peasgood, of Great Britain, claimed the bronze at 56:11.
“It was pretty hot out there and you feel it on the run, but I was confident in my preparation. We did a lot of heat training, so I was happy with how I handled the heat, and it gives me some confidence heading into next year,” said Daniel, who captured his ninth World Paratriathlon Series title earlier this season.
Meanwhile, the Canadian tandem of Jessica Tuomela and Marianne Hogan sent another warning shot to the world they are hungry for the podium in one year’s time after capturing their first World Cup victory together with a time of 1:10:08.
“Today was amazing. We worked so well together. It is a flat course but even a little hill changes everything for a blind athlete. Marianne’s feedback is paramount, and she was spot on today,” said Tuomela.
“It was quite honestly a bit of a shock (to win) given they changed it to a duathlon. I come from a swimming background so who knew that I would win a bit of a running race.”
In just four races together, the Canadian duo have also won a bronze medal at the World Paratriathlon Series in Montreal, followed by a silver at the World Cup in Magog, Que. The 36-year-old Tuomela, who is a three-time Paralympic swimmer, also has one other World Cup victory and World Paratriathlon Series title on her triathlon resume prior to uniting with Hogan.
“We have only been paired together since May, but at the end of the day, we both know the end goal is Tokyo 2020. So when we step on that race course, Marianne is there to push me, and I’m there to let her push me,” said Tuomela, who added the course was very organized and set up to allow the top athletes to race at their best.
“I haven’t allowed myself to think ahead to Tokyo. I take it one race or training day at a time. I learned last year to celebrate the little and big success. Today is about celebrating today and in two weeks we will talk about (World Championships) in Switzerland. It is a hard skill for me to learn but staying in the moment is something that is really important to me now.”
Melissa Reid, of Great Britain, was second at 1:10:48. Vita Oleksiuk, of the Ukraine, placed third with a time of 1:12:37.
Another rising star on the Canada’s para squad, Kamylle Frenette (Dieppe, N.B.) narrowly missed the podium in the women’s PTS5 classification. The 23-year-old clocked a fourth-place time of 1:06:40.
Great Britain’s Lauren Steadman finished on top at 1:03:20.
In the men’s visually impaired classification, Canada’s Jon Dunkerley (Ottawa) and his guide, James Cook (Summerland, B.C.), finished in ninth spot with a time of 1:02:39.
Canada’s Paratriathlon squad prepared themselves for the challenging, hot conditions the world’s best athletes faced this week, and are expecting during the 2020 Paralympic Summer Games, with a staging camp in Miyazaki City. Each of the top athletes, along with a world-leading support team that included staff from the Canadian Sport Institute Pacific leveraged the opportunity to ensure Team Canada is fully prepared to charge for the podium at the Games.
“This trip was great preparation and a perfect test of our plans for next summer. Coach Carolyn Murray and her team executed as a world-class unit, which resulted in strong results from each of our athletes,” said Eugene Liang, high-performance director, Triathlon Canada. “The change in race format to a duathlon could have negatively impacted our performance, but the entire team were prepared and adapted appropriately. This program continues to grow under Carolyn’s leadership with a clear focus on achieving excellence in Tokyo 2020 and beyond.”
The Tokyo Test Event wraps up on Sunday with the mixed team relay.
Complete World Cup Paratriathlon Results: