TOKYO, Jpn—Canada’s Stefan Daniel battled the sweltering Tokyo heat and a deep field to win the bronze medal in men’s action, while Paralympic rookie Kamylle Frenette gutted out a fourth place finish in the women’s race of the PTS5 classification at the Paralympic Games on Sunday.
Daniel, a 24-year-old Calgarian, emptied the tank to clock a third-place time of 59:22 in the 750-metre swim, 20-kilometre bike and five-kilometre run at the Odaiba Marine Park.
“My first reaction was a bit of disappointment, but honestly these are the best guys in the world and there is no room for error so I’m pretty proud of my efforts today,” said Daniel. “I gave absolutely everything I had on the day and that was good enough for bronze. I absolutely had to earn that bronze today.”
A winner of the silver medal at the sport’s Paralympic debut at the 2016 Games in Rio, Daniel has been on a mission to claim the top spot on the Paralympic podium over the last five years, during which he has racked up three of his four World Championship titles.
“It’s been a good journey to Tokyo. It hurts winning (World Champs) and then not at the Paralympics but I will cherish this and I’m really motivated to keep it going here,” added Daniel. “I have my work cut out for me towards Paris, but right now I’m just going to enjoy this the best I can.”
Daniel, who competes in cross country running for the University of Calgary during his off-season, came out of Odaiba Bay 64 seconds off the leading pace set by George Peasgood (Great Britain). The soft-spoken Canuck scrapped his way through five laps on the technical bike course that winds its way around Ariake Tennis Park in an attempt to remain within striking distance of Peasgood and the reigning Paralympic champion, Martin Schulz (Germany) when foot hit pavement.
Daniel made up a minute of time on his top international rivals during the run portion of the three-sport discipline, but ran out of real estate, and collapsed to the blue carpet after crossing the finish in third place.
“I went as deep as I could. The heat was definitely a factor but it was tough for everyone and I was definitely prepared for it,” said Daniel. “I just didn’t have it on the bike today. I tried my hardest to keep them close but they were just too strong. I did as good as I could across the board today. It was all I had so hats off to the top two guys.”
Peasgood held the lead until the penultimate lap on the run when Germany’s Schulz took control and never looked back while completing his own quest to successfully defend his Paralympic title with a time of 58:10. Peasgood held off a hard-charging Daniel to claim the silver medal after stopping the clock at 58:55.
Team Canada was also in a podium battle in the women’s PTS5 race on Sunday.
Kamylle Frenette, of Dieppe, N.B., showed her grit with a strong fourth-pace finish in her Paralympic debut.
A frontline worker during the pandemic, the 25-year-old pharmacy student who has been delivering COVID vaccinations in Nova Scotia over the last year while continuing her training and preparation for the Paralympic Games, mixed it up with many of the top names in the sport en route to clocking a time of 1:10:09.
“I’m really happy. I gave it my all and emptied the tank completely,” said Frenette. “I think it is normal for high performance athletes to always want more and I’m no different. I want more, but I’m also definitely really happy with today.”
Coming out of the swim just 44 seconds back of the leaders, Frenette dropped out of podium position on the 20-kilometre bike course, but continued her fight for the podium with a gutsy five-kilometre run in the high Tokyo humidity that left her exhausted at the finish.
Frenette was inspired to give triathlon a try after watching her dad compete in the sport. She was approached to join Triathlon Canada’s Para program in 2016 and found immediate success in the sport.
“It means a lot to represent my country,” she said. “Being so new to the sport and to be able to pull out a fourth place in just five years means that we have such a good team around us. I’m just really proud of the entire team.”
Great Britain’s Lauren Steadman won the women’s PTS5 classification with a time of 1:04:46. American Grace Norman was second at 1:05:27, while Claire Cashmore also of Great Britain topped Frenette for the bronze medal with a time of 1:07:36.
Complete Paralympic Men’s and Women’s PTS5 Triathlon Results: https://bit.ly/3BggpGy
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