Six elite Canadians will end their world triathlon season this week on a cool-looking course in downtown Chicago.
There are three women and three men representing Canada in the elite category. The women’s race is Friday, September 18th and the men’s goes the next day, September 19th.
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Victoria’s Kirsten Sweetland, a Commonwealth Games silver medallist, finished in 10th-place at the most recent ITU race, in Edmonton. “I really like my trajectory since coming back. I keep getting better and better and that is a good sign heading into Chicago for World Championships,” she said afterwards. Sweetland had a bacteria infection eliminate most of her 2015 season.
Sweetland is joined by national team member Sarah-Anne Brault and 22-year-old Amélie Kretz, both from Quebec. Olympian Paula Findlay, originally on the start list, had to pull out due to a nagging ankle injury that also kept her from competing in Edmonton.
The official name for this race is: 2015 ITU World Triathlon Grand Final. The course tours through Grant Park which is nestled along the water in between Lake Michigan and Chicago’s skyscrapers. The race will be Olympic distance, so a 1,500m swim loops into Monroe Harbor. Then nine-laps of a bike course almost the length of the park adds up to 40 km before four-laps of a smaller course equals a 10 km run.
Newly-minted Canadian champion Andrew Yorke is in the men’s race, coming off an eighth-place finish in Edmonton (which also served as nationals). Yorke was seventh at Pan American Games. Fellow national team member Kyle Jones received an alternate spot this week. Oak Bluff, Manitoba’s Tyler Mislawchuk will also compete.
No matter what, a World Champion will be named in Chicago, a title given to the cumulative winner of the World Triathlon Series.
Dominant American Gwen Jorgensen has won the last 11 WTS races, and will try to defend her 2014 title. Spain’s Javier Gomez is a legend. He has been on the ITU World Championship podium for eight consecutive years. He leads the ranking and if he triumphs again he’ll become the first athlete – male or female – to win the title in three consecutive years. It would also be his fifth World Championship title, another record.
There are 16 other Canadians competing in the U23, junior, and para races held in conjunction with the Grand Final.
You can find live event coverage of the 2015 ITU World Triathlon Grand Final Chicago here.
Simon Whitfield a Hall of Famer
Through four Olympics Whitfield was the face of Canadian triathlon, and a big name Olympian. He won Olympic gold at Sydney 2000 and a silver at the Beijing Olympics. He’ll join five other former athletes, a total of three women and three men plus one lifetime achiever, to make up the second-annual class.
Whitfield retired in October 2013.
Cover photo (CP): Kirsten Sweetland with the Canadian flag after winning the silver medal at the 2014 Commonwealth Games.