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Smith delighted with bronze-medal display

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Giving chase: Smith exits the water during her age group race in Cozumel, Mexico (Photograph by Aaron Smith)

Karen Smith won a bronze medal for Bermuda in the women’s 45-49 age group at the ITU Sprint Triathlon World Championships in Cozumel yesterday.

Also competing was Kent Richardson who finished eleventh in the men’s 55-59 age group in a time of 1hr 8min 45sec.

Smith’s time was unofficial as her chip stopped working after the bike ride when she clocked 32:57 to go with the 12:35 she recorded in the swim.

“The swim was absolutely stunning, clear and warm ocean,” she said. “I had a pretty good swim with the first 200 metres going as hard as I could.

“Since there was a group I decided to just ‘jump on the feet’ in front of me. Unfortunately the feet I jumped on lost contact with the first three swimmers.

“I came out of the water with a group of five or six and we quickly formed a small chase pack combining with some of the 40-year-old age group women in front of us.

“I came out of T2 in third and just tried to run with whatever my body could do given the limited running this year.

“I knew it was going to be a big ask but I did pass one girl and then ran through the age groups in front just picking off one by one. I had some information from the Bermuda contingent, who cheered their hearts out, that I was 30 seconds down from first.

“I tried to pick up the pace or at least the effort but 30 seconds with 2k is too much. I didn’t expect to get passed with 200 metres to go by the speedy Mexican who was in a different bike pack. Overall I’m really pleased as I couldn’t even run across the street a year ago.”

Smith, the mother of junior triathlete Tyler Smith, will return the support she received when she watches Bermuda’s other athletes compete.

Richardson’s overall time included a 12:04 swim, 30:35 bike and 21:59 run.

“It went awesome,” he said. “It was a good swim for me, real good swim, maybe a group of 14 just ahead of me. Eight in my bike group worked super hard, but I really dragged them around and tried to get them into a pace line to pull back the front group.

“In transition with the Bermuda gang yelling, I ran myself into tenth place and held it until 2k then the United States guy passed me.”

Meanwhile, Erica Hawley is confident she can improve on last year’s 45th-place finish in Chicago when she competes in the Junior Elite race of the ITU World Triathlon Championships in Cozumel, Mexico, today.

The 18-year-old, who recently started her freshman year at the University of Boulder in Colorado, arrived in Cozumel on Wednesday and went over the course yesterday.

She is looking forward to participating against the top junior triathletes in the world and is upbeat after a summer of training and competing overseas.

“My main goal for the race is to improve my performance from last year,” Hawley said.

“I’m confident this will happen as I have been training hard all summer and throughout the year.

“Of course the competition will be very tough as everyone steps up their game at a major race like this.”

This year’s field will see Taylor Knibb of the United States wearing the No 1 bib as she starts as one of the pre-race favourites.

Knibb placed second at last year’s event which was won by Germany’s Laura Lindemann in 57 min 28 sec while Lotte Miller of Norway was third.

Knibb completed the race in 58:14 while Miller clocked 58:39. Alberte Pedersen, of Denmark, and Hye Rim Jeong, of Korea, who completed the top five last year, are also competing in Cozumel in a field of 62.

Hawley thinks training and competing at altitude in Colorado will benefit her training and she is looking forward to her first year at university.

“So far I have been loving university,” she said. “It was tough the first couple of weeks but now that the triathlon team has started I have started to feel more at home.

“The training environment is great. Living at 5,000 feet was initially hard but I now have started to feel the benefits of living at altitude.

“Another bonus about choosing school in Boulder is that my coach, Ian O’Brien, is based only 45 minutes away from me.

“My team, Origin Performance, is based in Colorado Springs at the Olympic training centre which I will be able to train at in the near future. I’m so excited for the next year to come.”

Tyler Smith will also be in action among the juniors today, aiming for a top-20 finish.

He failed to finish last year’s race in Chicago after getting a puncture during the bike part of the race, which was reduced to a duathlon after storms delayed the start by more than an hour.

Awesome experience: Richardson finished eleventh in his race (Photograph by Aaron Smith)
Showing their support: members of the Bermuda contingent cheer Richardson on during his race (Photograph by Aaron Smith)
Feeling confident: Hawley is targeting a better finish than the 45th place she managed last time out (File photograph by Akil Simmons)