Canada’s Paula Findlay started the 2011 season where she left off last year – in podium contention against the world’s best triathletes. The 21-year-old narrowly missed the medals when she finished fourth at the ITU World Cup season-opener in Mooloolaba, Australia on Sunday. The red-headed Edmontonian, who made history last year becoming the first Canadian athlete to win a World Championship Series event and only woman in the world to win back-to-back in 2010, battled through the challenging conditions filled with strong winds, heavy rain and rough surf to post a fourth-place time of two hours, four minutes, seven seconds over the 1.5-kilometre swim, 40-kilometre bike and 10-kilometre run.
“It was a really tough race all around today. The course is challenging enough and the conditions made it that much more difficult,” said Findlay, who also finished fifth at the 2010 Grand Final. “I’m happy with my race, but not completely satisfied. Finishing fourth is always bittersweet. It’s still very early in the season so I’m glad to have a solid race under my belt heading to Sydney in a few weeks.”
Findlay had a strong swim in the choppy waters where she maintained pace with the leaders right through to the opening lap of the hilly 10-kilometre run where eventual race winner Nicky Samuels, of New Zealand, made her break from the pack. “My swim was better than I expected and the bike was a challenge with steep hills and the rain, but our group worked pretty well together,” said Findlay. “The run is where I feel I can improve the most at this point. I was a bit flat and my legs felt heavy, but I’m confident that a few more weeks of training will help me feel better for Sydney.”
Canada’s Lauren (Groves) Campbell had a solid outing in her comeback to the elite triathlon circuit after taking all of last year off with an injury. The 2008 Olympian used a stellar run to make up considerable ground on the field and place ninth with a time of 2:04:58. “I was delighted with my race today. It is not so much the result that I’m pleased with, but the fact I was healthy enough to return to World Cup competition and finish in the top-10 with one of the top run splits,” said the Vancouverite Campbell. “This was an important race to assess my race skill and fitness level and determine what still needs attention. I am looking forward to the months ahead.”
Cambell’s Olympic teammate, Montreal’s Kathy Tremblay, also had a solid first outing, finding her way back into the elite-15. Tremblay clocked a 15h-place time at 2:06:10. Calgary’s Kyla Coates finished 26th at 2:08:29, while Victoria’s Kirsten Sweetland did not finish.
Victoria’s Jeff Phillips was the lone Canadian to suit up in Saturday’s men’s race and finished 71st at 2:00.51. Australia’s Brad Kahlefeldt won the men’s opener with a time of 1:51:52. For complete coverage of the Mooloolaba World Cup, please visit www.triathlon.org. Live video coverage from Mooloolaba will also be available on race day at triathlonlive.tv.