Finish was oh so close

ROBERT TYCHKOWSKI -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 7:43 AM ET

Through 1,500 metres in the water, 40 kilometres on the bike and all but the final few steps of a 10-kilometre run, a tiny 18-year-old from Victoria did everything she could to script the perfect fairy tale ending.

As hungry to give Edmonton its first ever women's World Cup champion as the fans were to see one, rising young star Kirsten Sweetland provided two hours of high drama before settling for second place in the most exciting finish of the International Triathlon Union season.

In the-last ever ITU race in Edmonton, Australia's Emma Moffatt spoiled the happy ending by chasing Sweetland down in a dramatic sprint to the finish line, posting her first-ever win in the closest women's race this year.

That's great for her; not so for a crowd that did its best to will Sweetland to the top of the podium.

"I'm glad I got it, a bit of a shame that the crowd wasn't going for me, through," grinned Moffatt, who finished the race in 1:57:51.4, just 1.6 seconds ahead of Sweetland. "I feel kind of bad, they wanted the local to win. You could hear the crowd. She had great support out here."

But Moffatt doesn't feel nearly bad enough to give back the gold medal and $12,500 winner's cheque.

"It was hard work, I knew Kirsten can run," said Moffatt, who kind of thought she had a better kick than Sweetland.

"We've done a bit of training together, Kirsten actually came over to Australia and stayed at my place for three weeks and a few weeks ago I was at her house training with her.

"We're kind of mates. We know each other pretty well, now. I always used to get her on the 30-second effort, so I thought I can do this, I've done it before."

Sweetland was in or near the lead all race long. She was in the first group out of the water, first to complete the bike and ran within a few steps of the front for the entire run. With two kilometres to go it was down to a two-horse race, Sweetland and Moffatt.

They were neck and neck with 60 metres to go, when the Aussie pulled away.

"When it comes down to the sprint it's all about who wants it more, I guess," said Sweetland. "I really wanted it but I guess Emma wanted it more. But I'm really happy with that finish."

And why not? Just seven races into her senior triathlon career, the 2006 World Junior champion already has a win and a second place finish.

She's now the top ranked female triathlete in Canada and is definitely on the Olympic radar.

"I never expected this," she said, moments after the finish. "My progression has been a lot better than I expected. This is my seventh World Cup, so a podium, I can't ask for more."

Sweetland didn't know what to expect here after running herself to exhaustion in 30 Cheat and collapsing just 500 metres from another podium finish last weekend in Des Moines, so she played it fairly safe and the pace seemed to agree with her.

"I didn't think today was going to be my day," she said.

"I felt sick in the swim and in the bike. I wasn't sure what was going to happen. Last week I biked really really hard, this week I toned it down a little and it seemed to pay off. I just tried to hang in there and see what happened on the run."


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