YOKOHAMA, JPN—Jessica Tuomela and Emma Skaug opened the elite pre-Paralympic triathlon season with a bronze-medal triumph, while Tyler Mislawchuk battled to a 15th-place finish at the World Triathlon Championship Series in Yokohama, Japan.
Jessica Tuomela (Sault Ste. Marie, Ont.) and her guide Emma Skaug (Victoria) climbed onto the bronze-medal step of the women’s visually impaired podium after completing the 750-metre swim, 20-kilometre bike and five-kilometre run course in a time of 1:10:14.
“We are really happy with where we are at. We had a solid block of training coming into this race, and we’re really excited to see where we can go from here,” said the Canadian duo. “We executed our race plan exactly as we wanted today. It’s a technical and punchy course and we had an incredible time racing our way through it.”
The two Canucks, who last year became the first Canadian Paratriathletes to medal at the Commonwealth Games when they won the bronze, finished just shy of the silver medal on Saturday.
American McClain Hermes edged out the Canadians by two seconds, taking second at 1:10:12. Spain’s Susana Rodriguez won the classification with a time of 1:03:59.
Canada’s Leanne Taylor was also hunting down a podium finish in the women’s sitting classification. The Winnipegger was closing in on third place while charging through the run course but took the final turn too fast on her racer and crashed.
Taylor placed fifth at 1:11:16.
Australia’s Lauren Parker won the category at 1:07:06.
Another standout triathlete from Manitoba, Tyler Mislawchuk, enjoyed a solid day in World Triathlon Championship Series racing.
The 28-year-old, two-time Olympian, battled through heavy rain and slick conditions to post his second top-15 finish in as many races with a time of 1:43:27.
“The conditions were absolutely terrible. The rain was coming down so hard it felt like hail at some points,” said Mislawchuk, who was 12th at the season-opener in Abu Dhabi. “The name of the game was to try to get a top-12 for an Olympic qualification. I lost in the sprint for 12th so that stings a bit but given that it poured rain and was quite cold – which isn’t a strength of mine – I held in there quite good.”
He sure did.
Coming out of Yokohama Bay, seconds behind the leaders after the two-lap 1.5-kilometre swim, the Oak Bluff, Man. resident settled in for the 40-kilometre ride through the streets with a train of 45 cautious riders in the downpour.
Mislawchuk dug deep for the 10-kilometre run but ran out of gas and runway to pick up any more spots on the 60-man field, finishing 15th.
“Given everything we were dealing with, it is satisfactory. I wanted one of the Olympic qualifications but the best thing about triathlon is you race a bunch of races in a year so it is not over for me yet. I am now ranked ninth in the world so that is a good feeling. Anytime you are top-10 in the world in anything you have got to be satisfied. I just always want more,” said Mislawchuk.
New Zealand’s Hayden Wilde won the men’s race with a time of 1:42:13. Australia’s Matthew Hauser won the race for the silver in the sprint finish, clocking a time off 1:42:17. Portugal’s Vasco Vilaca placed third at 1:42:18.
It has been quite a turnaround for Mislawchuk after 18 challenging months of struggling to find his elite form that led him to a victory at the Olympic Test Event in Tokyo, four World Cup titles and a podium at the World Triathlon Championship Series. The scrappy Canuck is rejuvenated in the drive to Paris 2024, now regularly back racing at the front of the pack with the best triathletes on the planet.
“This is definitely a step in the right direction after last year. It’s not where I want to be finishing. I want to be competing for a podium at these races, but when you are racing the best guys in the world, week in and week out, 15th is not bad. I’m left wanting more. That doesn’t change.”
Charlottetown’s Martin Sobey had a solid day, placing 23rd at 1:43:59. Montreal’s Jeremy Briand stopped the clock at 1:49:25 for 47th.
Amelie Kretz was the top Canadian in the women’s race. The two-time Olympian from Sainte-Therese, Que. was steady through the swim, bike and run in the Olympic distance race, posting a time of 1:56:34 for 21st against a stacked women’s field going head-to-head in the rainy and frigid conditions.
Emy Legault, of Ile Perrot, Que., was 40th at 1:58:59.
Great Britain’s Sophie Coldwell won her first World Triathlon Championship Series race, crossing the finish line in a time of 1:53:32. Mexico’s Rosa Maria Tapia Vidal was second at 1:53:49, while Taylor Knibb, of the United States, hopped onto the final spot of the women’s podium with a time of 1:54:02.
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