By Michelle Clarke
The 2015 Toronto Pan Am Games kicked off early with the women triathletes who took to the water at 8:35am. In keeping with the Olympic distance triathlon the athletes must swim 1,500M, cycle 40km and run 10km. All eyes were on Canadian Paula Findley who was still having some residual issues, battling back from a past injury.
I stayed on the course to the watch this race and seeing the girls rally for position on the bike was impressive. The bike stage started with a few riders out in front each riding solo, with a larger pack sticking together for much of the race. Findley and her Canadian teammates Joanna Brown and Ellen Pennock stuck close together in the pack. Looking strong Findley was very determined, despite not being sure she was going to even race this morning due to illness. By the last lap, the pack had picked up the front riders and at this point, the race was going to be determined at this point during the 10km run.
From my viewpoint, I felt the women rode a safe race, staying very close together, using the draft to stay on pace. Most of the leaders looked relaxed and in control making the bike seem effortless. As I watched the last riders pass, the lead runners started to make their way to first turnaround with Chile’s Barbara Riveros holding strong in the lead. Right behind her, Bermuda’s Flora Duffy stayed close on her heels. With everyone watching for Findley wondering where she would land in the pack, she had a strong start on the run, leading a pack that landed her in 4th place.
The next laps had Riveros in the lead the race claiming gold for Chile. She finished with a time of 1:57:18 leading the race right from the water. While Duffy fell back, Paola Diaz from Mexico rallied into 2nd place taking the silver medal in a time of 1:57:58 just 29 seconds behind Riveros.
With one lap to go, Findley was falling further back and didn’t look comfortable. She started the race under the weather but still held her own finishing in 9th place. With Rio on the horizon, she showed the other athletes she is a contender. “It’s incredible to have support from my country and from my supporters, but I don’t feel like I need it to redeem myself. I did this ultimately for myself, and for Canada,” says Findley. “Rio next year is a big race for me. It would have been great to win in front of my hometown, but it’s all about perspective.”
Her teammates Ellen Pennock took 6th place and further back, smiling from ear to ear the whole time Brown finished 13th overall, making for an exciting start to the 2015 Toronto Pan Am Games!
Michelle Clark is a Toronto-based runner sharing her perspective on the 2015 Toronto Pan Am Games. Follow her on Twitter and on Instagram @michelletherunner.