EDMONTON – Alistair Brownlee has further cemented his status as a big event athlete.
The British triathlete, a gold medal winner at both the 2012 London Olympics and the 2014 Commonwealth Games in Glasgow, Scotland, broke away from the field at the ITU World Triathlon Series Grand Final on Sunday to win by a 20-second margin.
Brownlee, who missed three of the six preceding World Series races to take him out of world champion contention this year, also won the European Triathlon Championships in Kitzbuhel, Austria, earlier this year.
“It’s been a good little run of late,” said the 26-year-old. “It’s turned out all right for me. It would have been great to have been in the running for the world series title, but I made the most of it otherwise, I think. Since coming back from injury and competing in the European Championship, I think I have been first or second in every race, so that is good. Hopefully if I can have a good winter, I will be at my best for next year.”
Alistair’s brother, London Olympic bronze medal-winner Jonathan Brownlee, finished the race in fourth place, dropping him to third in the final World Series standings.
Spain’s Javier Gomez won the bronze, enough to guarantee him his second consecutive World Triathlon Series title and fourth in his career.
Gomez also won the overall title in 2008, 2010 and 2013.
“I was sick last week in Stockholm, so I feel lucky to have recovered pretty well for this race,” Gomez said. “I was glad I could give my best today and secure the title. That was my goal and I am very happy. I finished first in the world standings and Mario Mola was second, so it was good for Spain.”
Mola finished second at the Grand Final in Edmonton to pass Jonathan Brownlee in the series standings.
With his fourth win, Gomez, the silver medallist at the 2012 London Olympics, matched the record four world championship wins captured by British triathlon legend Simon Lessing.
Canada’s top performance came from Hamilton, Ont.’s Kyle Jones, who improved upon his 41st world ranking with an 18th-place showing in the Grand Final.
“It came down to the run and unfortunately I didn’t have the legs I would have hoped to,” Jones said. “All year I have had an underlying problem with my leg and it’s time to get that assessed now and get back to 100 per cent. I pushed as hard as I could for as long as I could. The support of the crowd really got me through it.”
Andrew Yorke of Caledon, Ont., who was fourth at last month’s Commonwealth Games and was ranked 51st coming in to the Final, finished 22nd.
“I’m happy with how I executed on the day,” he said. “I think it is pretty reflective of where I am at right now in the world. On a great day, a Commonwealth Games-type day, 10th was conceivable, but you can’t have a breakthrough race every time you toe the line. That just doesn’t happen.”
As the 2014 event represents the 40th anniversary of the triathlon as a sport and the 25th anniversary of the ITU itself, an official hall of fame was created with the first seven inductees being announced on Sunday.
Leading the class was Vancouver’s Les McDonald who served as the first ITU President from 1989 all the way to 2008, and is largely credited with getting triathlon added to the Olympic Games.
“It wouldn’t have been the sport it is today without the vision of people, especially Les McDonald,” said 1990 ITU champion and fellow hall-of-fame inductee Greg Welch of Australia. “He was the spearhead for everything the sport fought for since 1989 to get that Olympic dream just 11 short years after that. He is triathlon royalty.”
Also in the inaugural triathlon hall of fame class were athletes Erin Baker (New Zealand), Karen Smyers (United States), Emma Carney (Australia), Mark Allen (U.S.) and Simon Lessing (Great Britain).
A corporate challenge earlier in the day featured former Canadian Olympic gold medal triathlete Simon Whitfield competing alongside Edmonton Oilers captain Andrew Ference and Oilers head coach Dallas Eakins.
Whitfield did the swim, with Ference on the bike and Eakins running the final leg. The trio won the event.
More than 3,000 athletes representing 75 countries descended on Edmonton for the World Triathlon Grand Final. The events were broadcast to a worldwide television audience of approximately 45 million in 160 countries.
Edmonton is hosting the Grand Final for the second time, last hosting a World Championship in 2001. The WTS series travelled to seven other cities before Edmonton – Auckland, Yokohama, Cape Town, London, Chicago, Hamburg and Stockholm.
Edmonton has hosted nine International Triathlon Union triathlons since 2001.
© The Canadian Press, 2014