Medal glory for Smith and Hawley
Tyler Smith and Erica Hawley outlined their promise by claiming bronze medals at the Monterrey Camtri Triathlon Under-23 Championships in Mexico on Friday.
Smith claimed the second podium of his fledgeling career with splits of 18min 22sec, 54:17 and 32:43 for an overall time of 1:46:14.
Manoel Messias, of Brazil, won the race in 1:45:15 ahead of second-place compatriot Willy Kaue, who posted a time of 1:45:23.
Smith, who represented Bermuda at the Commonwealth Games on the Gold Coast, Australia, last year, described his race as “near perfect”.
He said: “It's not often in a triathlon where things go your way. It was an extremely physical swim in a narrow river, but I was able to stay near the front and get into a leading group of 11 on the bike.
“With a technical course, it was an advantage to be in a smaller group, and we were able to grow the gap to some of the faster runners and pre-race favourites.
“Entering transition we had a gap of 50 seconds to the chasers, so it was my goal to run a smart and evenly paced 10km to maintain a podium position and a top ten, which were my pre-race goals.”
Smith said his podium finish offered a strong gauge of his level as he builds towards the Pan American Games in Lima, Peru, this summer.
“It was great to get an opportunity to line up against this field as it gives me a good indication of how I fare among our region ahead of the Pan Am Games,” Smith said.
“The other benefit to this result is it has improved my world ranking to just outside the top 200, which should give me the opportunity to enter World Cup races later in the year.
“I had put a lot of effort into the preparation for this race with my coach, doing a lot of technical riding and sessions in a heat chamber to acclimate to the conditions in Mexico, so it's great to see it all come together.”
For Hawley, it was her third career podium and first at the under-23 level. She finished in an overall time of 2:02:55 with splits of 20:34, 1:01:22 and 39:52.
The race was won by Erika Ackerlund, of the United States, in 1:58:54, with Mexico's Jessica Romero Tinoco coming second in 1:59:42.
Hawley, who also competed at the Commonwealth Games, said: “The race went really well, it was my first Olympic [distance race] of the year and I forgot how much that hurt!
“As always, there was a lot of drama at the race. Every single junior girl crashed in the race before us which made us all a little on edge. I had a great swim and made it to the front pack which is always the goal. The bike was pretty sketchy and we were all being cautious for the first half of the race until the course dried up. It consisted of lots of slowing down and surges, which meant that there were lots of spikes in my power. This meant that I had quite some heavy legs on the run.
“But I was really happy with the result and it was a good test to race the people that I will hopefully be racing at the Pan Am Games and in the future.”
Meanwhile, Julia Hawley, Erica's mother, placed sixth in the 55-59 age group at the Aquabike World Championships in Pontevedra, Spain, at the weekend.
Julia had splits of 35:15 and 4:08:04 for an overall time of 5:50:00.
“I couldn't be happier as my last world championship was Kona 2013!” Julia wrote on Facebook. “Loved getting prepared for this race.”