A new generation of Canadian triathletes officially introduced themselves to the world by winning five medals, including a sweep of the women’s podium, at the Edmonton World Cup sprint race, presented by Antrim on Sunday.
Canada’s 20-year-old rookie, Amelie Kretz, won the gold medal in her first-ever World Cup race. Calgary’s Ellen Pennock grabbed the first World Cup medal in just her second year on the senior squad, while Victoria’s Kirsten Sweetland, 24, returned to the international podium for the first time in three years in the bronze-medal position.
Kretz has quickly emerged as one of the most promising talents on the young Canadian squad with solid early-season results in her first year as senior. After a strong swim and solid bike, the Blainville, Que. resident pulled away from her teammates in the lead pack of three on the final lap of the five-kilometre run to clock a golden time of 1:03:18.
“It is unbelievable and absolutely amazing,” said Kretz, who also won the Canadian Championships, which was being held in conjunction with the World Cup race. “I am really, really happy. We just worked so well together today and I am so happy. I wasn’t expecting that and it is just amazing.”
With Kretz on her tail, Pennock led the 32-woman field out of the water in the 750-metre swim at Edmonton’s Hawrelak Park, which will host the 2014 Grand Final. The Calgarian, who was fourth in this race last year, placed herself comfortably in the lead pack on the hilly 20-kilometre bike ride through the streets of Edmonton before pulling away from the field again with her teammates in the run. Pennock celebrated the silver medal with a time of 1:03:29.
“It has been a tough week for Calgarians (with the floods). My heart goes out to all the people in Calgary, and this performance by us Canadian girls was for the all those people back home,” said Pennock. “Kirsten (Sweetland) was an animal on the bike today. She did so much work, and we were able to pull away on the run. It is unbelievable.”
Joking that she is now the Granny amongst the new era of Canadian triathletes at just 24 years old, Sweetland demonstrated her fitness and resiliency by climbing back onto the podium for the first time after battling a series of injuries over the last five years - not to mention a stomach virus that has prevented her from training over the last two weeks. Leading for most of the run, the pint-sized Canuck held on to win the fourth World Cup medal of her career with a third-place time of 1:03:29.
“I had no idea what to expect today. I haven’t trained so I figured I’d have no legs today or I’d be okay because I was well rested,” said Sweetland. “I came out of the first transition and saw a ladybug on my bike, and I remember telling myself it is going to be a lucky day. It feels great to be back on the podium and to share it with these two girls is so special.”
Sweetland, nicknamed the comeback kid, has two World Cup victories, and a silver medal at the 2007 World Cup in Edmonton. Sweetland became the first Canadian woman ever to win a medal at the Junior World Championships in 2006. Her last international podium was a silver medal at the 2010 Under-23 World Championships in Budapest, Hungary.
While not on the podium, another one of Canada’s rising stars, Joanna Brown of Carp, Ont., gets the medal for perseverance. Sitting in third spot while wrapping up the bike course, the 20-year-old suffered sprained arms and two gashes on both legs after a nasty crash while dismounting her bike heading into second transition - costing her loads of time on the leaders. The powerful runner put the pain aside and darted her way back into contention, finishing fourth at 1:03:49.
“I crossed the finish line and just started crying. Not because I was hurt, but I saw those three Canadian girls on the podium and I was just so proud,” said Brown. “We have such a talented group of young Canadian girls coming up and I am so happy for our team. Fourth is a tough place to finish, but that gives me more motivation for the rest of the year.”
Meanwhile, Kyle Jones continued the trail to the podium for the Canadians after running to the silver medal in the men’s World Cup sprint race. The 28-year-old Olympian, of Oakville, Ont., was in the hunt to successfully defend his first World Cup victory on the Edmonton course after breaking from the pack with France’s Greg Rouault in the five-kilometre run. Jones could not maintain the pace set by the Frenchman, and settled for the silver medal at 57:46.
“I was in a good position out of the swim, and just tried to stay safe on the bike because there was a bad crash right behind me and I know what that is all about,” said Jones, who has crashed twice himself this year. “Greg is a great runner and I just couldn’t find that extra gear today. I wanted that one bad.”
The win also gave Jones his second-straight national title.
Rouault pulled away for the victory with a time of 57:39. Ivan Ivanov, of the Ukraine, rounded out the men’s podium in third at 58:01.
Triathlon Canada is the governing body for triathlon in the country. Recognized as an Olympic medal sport since 2000 and Paralympic medal sport as of 2016, Triathlon Canada’s mandate is to promote, foster, organize and develop the sport of triathlon, and its related disciplines, in Canada. For more information on Triathlon Canada, please visit us at www.triathloncanada.com on the Internet.
Complete ITU World Cup Results (750m Swim, 20km bike, 5km run): www.triathlon.org
Top-Five Women’s Results:
1. Amelie Kretz, Blainville, Que., CAN, 1:03:18; 2. Ellen Pennock, Calgary, CAN, 1:03:29; 3. Kirsten Sweetland, Victoria, CAN, 1:03:35; 4. Joanna Brown, Carp, Ont., CAN, 1:03:49; 5. Kaitlin Donner, USA, 1:03:53.
Top-Five Men’s Results:
1. Greg Rouault, FRA, 57:39; 2. Kyle Jones, Oakville, Ont., CAN, 57:46; 3. Ivan Ivanov, UKR, 58:01; 4. Rodrigo Gonzalez, MEX, 58:06; 5. Kaleb Vanort, USA, 58:11