Canadian triathletes grab medal hat trick at Pan American race

Kyle Jones of Oakville kicked off the 2012 season in medal-winning fashion to help the Canadian triathlon team to a podium hat trick – gold, silver and bronze – in women’s and men’s racing at the ITU PATCO Pan American Championships on Sunday (Jan. 15) in La Paz, Argentina.

Jones came into the race hungry to ring the New Year off with a win. The 27-year-old Oakville, Ont. native clung to the heels of his Canadian comrade, Brent McMahon, for the most of the race, finishing just 23 seconds off the pace while clocking a bronze-medal time of 1:54:30 in the 1.5-kilometre swim, 40-kilometre bike and 10-kilometre run.

“I have mixed feelings about the race. Similar to the Pan Am Games, I came into it with the expectation of winning so I’m a little disappointed that I wasn’t able to do that,” said Jones, who had three ITU victories last year, and was fourth at the Pan Am Games.

“Overall I’m happy with it. This was an important race for Olympic points so I’m very happy we were able to do that. It’s not often we race so early in the season, but I felt really fit coming into the event. This was a good reminder that it’s tough to come from our Canadian winter and perform well in a hot race, but overall I’m happy and the season is off to a good start.”

Victoria’s McMahon perfected his race strategy for the silver medal with a time of 1:54:07.

“Obviously getting the win would have been better, but we are in a chess game right now and I think I played it all right so I’m very happy with today,” said the 31-year-old McMahon, who won a bronze medal for Canada at the 2011 Pan American Games. “I had to watch the Americans and I didn’t want to burn any matches chasing Butterfield down. I knew if I stayed with the other contenders on the run, I could have a strong run and beat them and I did.”

Bermuda’s Tyler Butterfield finished on top of the two Canucks on the podium, clocking a golden time of 1:53.36.

Jones and McMahon have been working relentlessly with Simon Whitfield to earn enough points to secure three spots for Canada in the men’s race at the London Games.

Winnipeg’s Sarah-Anne Brault shocked the world to win her first-ever international triathlon race after shattering the women’s field by more than one minute. The 22-year-old West Virginia University student, who is a 10 kilometre running specialist with the Mountaineers track squad, clocked a golden time of two hours, seven minutes, 10 seconds.

Brault, who first shocked the nation last year by knocking off Edmonton’s Paula Findlay to win the Canadian championships, was joined on the podium by two Americans. Jillian Petersen won the silver with a time of 2:08.22, while Margaret Shapiro grabbed the bronze at 2:08.26.

Montreal’s Kathy Tremblay ran just shy of the medals, finishing fourth with a time of 2:08:43. Three other Canadian women also hit the start line. Victoria (BC) native Kirsten Sweetland finished 8th (02:11:51), Edmonton’s Chantell Widney finished 10th (2:12:21), and Vancouver’s Lauren Campbell was 11th (2:12:46).

Canada’s triathletes will now dial back their training a notch while getting ready to put themselves in podium contention once again for the next series of races at the end of March in Australia.