EDMONTON—A gutsy group of Canucks put together a spirited seventh-place effort in the Mixed Team Relay on home turf as the World Triathlon Series wrapped up in Edmonton on Saturday.
A young and highly-talented squad consisting of Joanna Brown (Carp, Ont.), Tyler Mislawchuk (Oak Bluff, Man.), Desirae Ridenour (Cowichan Bay, B.C.) and Victoria’s Matt Sharpe posted their second seventh-place finish in three races during the Olympic qualification period for the new action-packed event. The Canadians clocked a combined time of 1:22:01 in front of thousands of cheering fans alongside Edmonton’s picturesque River Valley.
Canada’s 25-year-old Joanna Brown took the opening leg of the four-person mini-triathlon that sees each athlete complete a 300 metre swim, 6.6 kilometre bike and 1.6-kilometre run around Edmonton’s Hawrelak Park.
“I love racing for Canada and I knew I had a job to do today – to lead the team off the best I could,” said Brown, who has struggled to find her top gear this year, and was coming off a 23rd-place finish in Friday’s individual race. “I gave myself some time to be mad yesterday and was super motivated to see what I could do today.”
After a 16th place swim, Brown was a magician on the bike course where she climbed her way into fifth spot heading into transition two.
“I know I’m super fit and just haven’t showed it so I wanted to have fun with it today and race for the team. I was tactical on the bike, saved my energy when I needed to and ran the way I knew I could,” she said.
Brown tagged off to 23-year-old Tyler Mislawchuk in third spot. By the time the 23-year-old Olympian made his way to the water, he was in first spot, but was back in fourth heading onto the bike.
Working his way in the elite pack of seven on the bike, Mislawchuk dug deep to keep pace with the leaders.
“It was an average day. I wanted a lot more, but just tried to give the team all I had, keep it in the race and stay in contact with the leaders,” said Mislawchuk.
Things began to take shape in the third leg when Canada’s Desirae Ridenour took the reigns in seventh spot. The 18 year old made up three spots on the field when she pulled herself out of the water, pedalling out of first transition in fourth place.
The American and Great Britain team broke away from the pack in the final lap of the bike in the third leg. The Canadian youngster continued the fight despite getting dropped off the back of the top group.
Ridenour tagged to Canada’s Matt Sharpe in seventh for the anchor leg. The 27-year-old swam, biked and ran solo the whole way while holding the seventh spot.
Up front, the lead changed amongst an elite pack of six until the final lap of the run when Australia pulled ahead of the United States for the Victoria. The Aussies clocked a golden time of 1:19:29. The Americans celebrated the silver at 1:19:31, while New Zealand battled their way to the bronze after stopping the clock at 1:19:39.
Recently named an official medal discipline for the 2020 Olympic Summer Games, the mixed team relay lived up to its billing on Saturday as one of the most exciting, spectator-friendly events in triathlon.
“Anything can happen. It is so dynamic. When you start there are no favourites and anyone can win on the day,” said Tyler Mislawchuk. “We need to find the small little things that will make the difference. Right now, we are still trying to find out the best start order that works for us. When we get that sorted out, I feel we will be in that top-six and eventually closer to the podium.”
Canada’s best finish at a Mixed Team World Championships came in 2009 when the team led by Simon Whitfield won the bronze in Des Moines, Iowa. Team Canada had a fourth-place finish in the mixed team relay at the 2018 Commonwealth Games in Gold Coast, Australia, as well as the fifth-place finish at the 2017 Mixed Relay World Championship in Hamburg, Germany.