Top-ten finish the aim for Hawley
Erica Hawley believes a top-ten finish in the women’s triathlon at the Pan American Games would be her equivalent of winning a gold medal.
Hawley is seeded 20th for the Olympic-distance race, which takes place at Chorrillos Beach in the Bohemian district of Barranco today at noon Bermuda time.
She competed against the majority of the field at the Monterrey Camtri American Championships in Mexico last May, finishing fifteenth, and will be thrilled if she can reproduce that type of performance in Lima.
“Anything in the top 20 would be a bronze achievement for me, a top 15 would be silver and a top ten would be a really great day,” Hawley said.
“I’ve raced most of these girls frequently and I know that there are some very accomplished ladies competing.
“When I raced in Monterrey at the regional championships, the majority of the girls were there. I finished fifteenth so that’s a good indicator of where I’m likely to come.”
Although Hawley is making her debut at the Pan Am Games, she gained valuable experience of multi-sports events at the Commonwealth Games on the Gold Coast, Australia, last April, and the Central American Games in Barranquilla, Colombia, last summer.
“Having competed at the Commonwealth Games and the CAC Games, I do feel more prepared going to these Games,” she said. “The Athletes’ Village is less overwhelming. I’ve been busy in the days leading up to the race [dealing with] the travelling and excitement, so I’ve made sure that I’m on top of my rest and hydration leading up to the event.”
Competing on the big stage seems to bring out the best in the 21-year-old, who came sixteenth in the individual event on the Gold Coast before helping Bermuda finish fifth in the mixed relay alongside Flora Duffy, Tyler Butterfield and Tyler Smith. Duffy and Smith have been forced to miss the Pan Am Games because of injury.
Hawley also impressed with a sixth-place at the CAC Games and believes she has made steady improvements over the past 12 months, despite having to juggle her training with studying at the University of Colorado in Boulder.
“Going into the Commonwealths, I had taken six months off school so I was fully focused on training, whereas this year I have only had May and August to live as an athlete,” she added.
“It’s definitely been harder but you adjust your timetables to fit around school and really emphasise the key workouts and focus on technique. The overall hours of training may be less.
“Training has been going well. I was based in Spain in June and July with my team-mates and coach Ian O’Brien, which was the first time I had been with my squad [Origin Performance] for the year since I have been at school.
“I had a good training block there, was home for a few days and then travelled here.”
Hawley, who will be supported by her triathlete mother Julia and father Adam in Lima, said she has enjoyed soaking up the atmosphere at the sprawling Athletes’ Village in the district of Villa El Salvador.
“The village is great,” she said. “Getting to and from it has been a bit of a nightmare, but each day it’s improving.
“I’m so excited to have my parents here in Lima to be cheering me on.
“This year I have raced alone a lot and without a team/family, so it has been so nice to be with the Bermuda team and have people around.”