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Disappointed Hawley finishes 21st

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Testing conditions: Erica Hawley exits the water at Chorrillos Beach in Lima during the women’s triathlon today(Photograph by Stephen Wright)

Erica Hawley endured a nightmare swim in the choppy seas off Chorrillos Beach in the women’s triathlon and never really recovered as she placed 21st at the Pan American Games.

Hawley believed a top-15 finish was achievable in her first appearance at the multi-sport event but struggled throughout and could not hide her disappointment.

The 21-year-old admitted she felt like “giving up” but showed grit to stay the course and complete the Olympic-distance race — 1.5-kilometre swim, 40km bike and 10km run — in a time of 2hr 15min 44sec today.

With the water temperature below 20 degrees, wetsuits were mandatory for the 33 competitors, who had to battle brutal swells as high as 1.90 metres.

After exiting the water in 25th in 21:37, Hawley had plenty of work do on the bike, her strongest discipline, but was always up against it as part of the fifth chase pack in a group of five.

“It was a really tough day out there,” Hawley said. “My swim was not what I wanted and honestly I just wanted to give up.

“I managed to keep going and that’s all I could have done.

“I got hit a lot [by the waves] and was feeling pretty nauseous. I could just see the gap increasing. The swells made a big difference.”

Any hopes Hawley had of achieving a her pre-race target were all but over before the first transition.

She did, however, produce the 20th fastest bike ride to climb into the top 20 with a time of 1:11:30.

“It’s always hard when you see figures in front of you and you’re not where you want to be,” said the 20th seed.

“That’s part of racing and all I could do was keep going and try and to make Bermuda proud.”

The University of Colorado student had to dig deep throughout the challenging and hilly run, once again posting the 20th fastest time in 41:07.

“The course definitely wasn’t easy,” Hawley said. “The swim was hard, the bike was hard and the run was spread out.

“It’s always an honour to race for Bermuda, though, and I just hope that everyone is happy with me.”

Although she was disheartened with her Pan Am Games debut, Hawley said she knows she is capable of much more, having come sixteenth at the Commonwealth Games on the Gold Coast, Australia, in April last year.

“The Commonwealths was a good race so I know I can perform,” she added. “I’m a human being and we all have bad days sometimes.”

Luisa Baptista claimed the gold medal for Brazil in 2:00:55, with her compatriot Vittoria Lopes coming second in 2:01:27. Cecilia Perez, of Mexico, completed the podium in 2:02:07.

All three raced at MS Amlin World Triathlon Bermuda in April, Baptista finishing 21st, Lopes 24th and Perez 23rd.

Staying the course: Erica Hawley crosses the finish line in 21st place(Photograph by Stephen Wright)