A CORUNA, Spain.—Canada’s Paratriathlon team made a triumphant return to World Cup racing with a hat-trick of medals in A Coruna, Spain on Sunday.
Competing in their first race in 21 months, Calgary’s Stefan Daniel ran away with the gold medal in the men’s standing division, while Jessica Tuomela (Sault Ste. Marie, Ont.) and her guide Marianne Hogan (Montreal) climbed onto the bronze medal podium in the women’s visually impaired classification – a result which was also matched by Kamylle Frenette (Dieppe, N.B.) in the women’s standing sprint distance race. Winnipeg-based rookie, Leanne Taylor, was solid in fifth place.
The 24-year-old Daniel, a 2016 Paralympic silver medallist who has won the last three World Championships, felt sluggish through the 750-metre swim, 20-kilometre bike and five-kilometre run course, but still handily won his race classification with a time of 59:48.
“Being my first triathlon in two years, it was okay but I didn’t feel amazing,” said Daniel. “The goal today was to just get back into the rhythm of things. Training has been going well but it takes a lot to transition into racing. That is literally why we are here – to get a race in and build from it. It wasn’t the best version of myself today, but to still have the capacity to win when it is not one of my best days really is a confidence booster.”
The only athlete to break the one-hour mark, Daniel cruised to victory in the men’s standing field. The next best finisher was Spain’s Jairo Ruiz Lopez who edged out Brazil’s Ronan Cordeiro for the silver medal. The Spaniard and Brazilian both finished at 1:00:45.
Meanwhile, Kamylle Frenette swapped the white medical coat for a 2XU Canadian race suit. The pharmacy student, who has been delivering COVID vaccinations in the Nova Scotia while continuing her training and preparation for Tokyo, was solid in her return to the start line.
A couple of weeks shy of her 25th birthday, the Maritimer ran to her second major international triathlon podium with a third-place finish in a time of 1:13:07.
“I think it was definitely a great race to shake the cobwebs. There are a number of little things that catch up to you when you don’t race for so long,” said Frenette, whose only other major international podium came in 2018 when she was second in Besancon, France.
“The swim wasn’t what I was expecting today. I got on to the wrong feet, and the bike wasn’t great but I gathered myself and got things going on the run. I had some expectations for myself, but realistically today was to get the cobwebs out and have something to build on, and we did that.”
Frenette shared the podium with two athletes from Great Britain.
Lauren Steadman broke the finishing tape in the women’s standing division, winning with a time of 1:07:25. Claire Cashmore was second at 1:07:37.
Jessica Tuomela, and her guide Marianne Hogan, proved they will be a force on the final march to Tokyo with a bronze medal in their season-opener in A Coruna.
The Canadian duo set the tone for a medal-winning race by posting the top 750-metre swim in the high surf.
“I didn’t know what to expect but I am very pleased with today,” said Tuomela, who represented Canada at three Paralympic Games in swimming before transitioning into triathlon. “The waves were quite high, which usually makes me nervous, but I was super relaxed in the water today. I thought we might have been in the middle of the group in the swim, but to come out first was awesome.”
Tuomela and Hogan then hopped onto their new tandem bike, thanks to the generous support of Triathlon Canada donors, where they turned in a solid three-lap ride and positioned themselves well for a run to the podium.
“We were really strong on the bike and worked together through the whole way,” added Tuomela, who won the Paralympic Test Event in Tokyo in 2019 just weeks before celebrating the bronze medal at the last World Championships before the COVID shut down.
“COVID has been hard on a lot of people for many different reasons. For me, I have been navigating through an injury so today was the reassurance that I was needing. I had no idea where we would be at (in comparison to other athletes) but it was good to figure it out. I can’t wait to get to Wisconsin next week and continue solidifying ourselves as a team working even better together heading to Tokyo.”
The Canucks were chasing Spain’s Susana Rodriguez who finished on top of the women’s visually impaired podium. Great Britain’s Melissa Reid was second.
Complete World Paratriathlon Cup Results:
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