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Erica Hawley finishes fantastic fifth in World Triathlon Cup in Australia

Erica Hawley in the lead group in Wollongong, Australia

Erica Hawley produced one of her career-best performances to finish fifth in the World Triathlon Cup Wollongong in Australia on Saturday.

In a sprint finish over the sprint distance, Hawley crossed the line just two seconds behind race winner Tilda Mansson, of Sweden, the 2022 Junior World Champion, after completing the 750 metres swim in 9min 2sec, the 20 kilometres bike leg in 33:19 and the 5km run in 17:03 for a total time of 1:00:42.

The 26-year-old was delighted with her performance in tough conditions and pleased that she was aggressive against some of the world’s best triathletes.

“I was super pleased with my result and I’m still processing how good I felt,” Hawley told The Royal Gazette.

“The forecast made the race challenging with rain, high winds and a hilly course and the field was small, with only around 30 women, so I expected the swim to be less aggressive, and maybe more spread out.

“The bike ended up coming together with the majority of the field in the main pack and I tried to be smart and conserve energy on the bike.

I had a very fast T2 and I started the run in the top five, felt very strong from the get-go and went to the front.

“I felt extremely confident and comfortable running the pace required at the front and I tried to enjoy leading the race even though it was a scary place to be. The wind was a huge factor on this course so I tried to draft on the bike/run as much as possible by running behind people on the headwinds. I didn’t quite get the sprint for the podium right, but I am so pleased to get fifth.”

The performance means Hawley has continued her good form of last year when she finished third in the World Triathlon Cup in Yeongdo and fourth at the Pan American Games in Chile.

“This result is another step in the right direction and it was another opportunity to show that I am consistently performing in the top ten at a World Cup,” Hawley said.

“Even during the race I felt like I was holding back at moments because of the calibre of women I was racing against, so I had to remind myself that I belong and I can dictate the pace of the race and control the outcome based on my strengths.

“I would rank this result as one of my best and in terms of performance I was only three seconds back from the top-four women so that shows that I am right where I need to be.”

The performance boosts Hawley’s chances of qualifying for the Olympic Games in Paris. Heading into the event she was ranked 64th in the individual Olympic rankings but, given the way the places are allocated, she is occupying 48th place among the 55 potential qualifiers.

However, with the deadline for qualification still more than a month away, Hawley is not letting her guard down.

“The fight for Olympic qualification is not close to being over and in fact it’s closer than it has ever been,” Hawley said.

“Of course, this was a good points-scoring race but the fight is still on, and my competitors like [Tilda] Mansson, [Lisa] Perterer and [Dominika] Jamnicky etc are all racing the same races in the next month.

“Anything can happen in the next month so I am just taking each race as it comes and focusing on executing each race individually. However, it is a huge confidence boost that my training has been going well and I am in great form for this racing block. I am feeling excited and prepared for the next block.”

With Olympic qualification looming, Hawley is set to be on her travels in the next few weeks to give herself the best possible chance of making it to Paris.

“On Wednesday I am heading to Chengdu, China, for the next race in the season,” Hawley said.

“This race is an Olympic distance so it will be good to test my fitness at this distance. From there, I am heading to the UK for two weeks for a mini-camp before travelling to Uzbekistan to race in the last World Cup in the Olympic qualification period.

“I am hoping to end my racing block in Cagliari for the WTCS event (depending on if I get a start) as this is the final chance for athletes to qualify for Paris. Fingers crossed.”

Hawley was not the only Bermudian in action in Australia, with Tyler Smith finishing 23rd in the men’s event.

Smith stopped the clock at 55:00, just over two minutes behind local favourite Luke William, and now has plenty of work to do in upcoming races in Asia if he is to fulfill his dream of competing in Paris.

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Published April 20, 2024 at 9:22 pm (Updated April 21, 2024 at 3:51 pm)

Erica Hawley finishes fantastic fifth in World Triathlon Cup in Australia

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