Canada's budding triathlon prospect has suddenly become a star.
Paula Findlay of Edmonton won her second consecutive World Championship Series triathlon Sunday in Kitzbuhel, Austria, out-sprinting Sweden's Lisa Norden and New Zealand's Andrea Hewitt down the stretch to become the first Canadian to finish atop the podium in back-to-back races. Findlay previous win came July 24 on the same course in London that will be used for the 2012 Olympics Games.
“That win was so much harder than London running with those two super star runners,” Findlay said. “I didn’t know what my sprint would be like. I did run a little track in high school and I just tried to go as hard as I could to the line. I’m shocked again.”
Running shoulder to shoulder with Norden and Hewitt, two of the best triathletes in the world, for most of the 10-kilometre run, 21-year-old Findlay waited until the bell lap to take charge. She left Hewitt in her wake with 400 metres to go and then out-sprinted Norden to finish in two hours, three minutes and three seconds.
Norden finished second in 2:03:06, while Hewitt held on for third at 2:03:10.
Findlay, who boasts far less experience than most of the top WCS triathletes, stayed near the front of the pack on the 40km bike course after completing the 1.5km swim in Schwarzsee Lake in just under 20 minutes.
“I think the thing I am most happy with today is how I handled the bike,” said the University of Alberta student. “I stayed with the top eight riders and didn’t even know we had a lead pack of 22. I just tried to stay near the front and out of trouble. I know my bike is getting stronger and I felt a lot more comfortable today.”
Findlay, the bronze medalist at the 2009 under-23 world championships, has now won four times in three series this season. In April, she recorded her first World Cup win in Monterrey, Mexico, then added another victory at a Pan-American Cup race in Coteau-du-Lac, Quebec in late June.
All in all it's been a monster season for the young red-head, now ranked eighth in the WCS standings.
“This definitely wasn’t part of the plan and I just keep surprising myself,” Findlay said. “In London I felt so good the race almost felt easy, but today that bike course I was so challenging I just feel exhausted and haven’t really taken it in. This is all just crazy though and I’m obviously really happy.”
The only other Canadian in the field, Kathy Tremblay of Montreal, did not finish.
Findlay can complete the hat trick of wins at the WCS final in Budapest Sept. 8-12. Prior to that, though, she will race in the Canadian Championships in Kelowna, B.C. next weekend.