June 5, 2011
Findlay ties ITU record
By Terry Jones, QMI Agency
Wearing ‘1’ stenciled on her arms and thighs for the first time in her career as the series leader, Paula Findlay was The One all the way to a special day.
The just-turned 22-year-old redhead from Edmonton scored her fourth victory in five events in a span of 10½ months on the ITU World Championship Series and in doing so equalled the most wins ever by a female triathlete on the elite circuit.
Reigning world champion Emma Moffat of Australia also has a four-win total in the eight-race a year elite series created in 2009 which ends with a grand final, this year being held in Beijing.
“After two and a half hours in drug testing I probably don’t sound that thrilled, but that was absolutely my best race in my life, from the swim to the bike to the run and I’m just so happy with it,” she said in a cellphone interview with Sun Media after taking longer to tinkle than she did in winning the race in Madrid in 2:03:46.
“Then to find out that it moved me up into a tie for most series wins with Emma ...
“It’s just so cool to have been able to do that. I look up to all the girls on the circuit and I’m still star-struck to be competing with the two Emmas (Emma Snowsill of Australia, the Olympic and world champion).”
With this win Findlay, until proven otherwise, will be considered the best female triathlete in the world.
“I still don’t like to say that,” she said.
Findlay almost casually breezed to victory, totally in control and finishing with plenty in reserve as she equalled international triathlon history.
“It wasn’t just the result, it’s the way the entire race went. The feeling was awesome,” declared the U of A student working towards a medical degree who spends her winters in Edmonton and her summers globetrotting.
For the first time in her career Findlay will experience the sensation of competing as a defending champion as she heads to the famed Hahnenkamm World Cup ski town of Kitzbuhel, Austria, in two weeks.
“I don’t know that I’m going there looking forward to be going as Olympic champion as going to a place where I’ve raced before. But it takes a little stress away when it’s a place where you’ve had success. I’m going to be pretty happy to be going back there.”
Hopefully her bike arrives undamaged. After a two-week training session at altitude in France, Findlay arrived in Madrid to find her bike broken and useless in transport. Her bike sponsor, Specialized, managed to get her a new one in time for the race.
Findlay, who lost a contact lens while winning the first series race in Sydney, said she’s always prepared for adversity.
“(Sunday) was as close to smooth as any race I’ve ever had.
“It was the best swim of my life,” she said of coming out of the water sixth and on the bike third through transition. Quickly taking the lead on the bike, she then found a comfortable position in the lead group and headed into the run in a group of three to win in comfort.
“It was just easy,” she marveled of the swim. “No fighting. Just amazing. That was the best swim I ever had. The swim was the highlight of my race by far. I’m actually happier with my swim than my race.”
The rest of it was almost cruise control.
“I was pushed. But I felt in control all the way. I knew I could sprint to the finish if I had to,” she said.
While she only finished three seconds ahead of Helen Jenkins in second, the Englishwoman knew it was highly unlikely she was going to catch Findlay.
“She’s world class. She’s really world class,” she said of the Canadian who has come along to give her nation another star in the sport to replace Simon Whitfield as he heads into the twilight of his remarkable career.
“I knew Paula was going to pull away at some point,” said Jenkins. “Then she kicked. I just tried to hang on as long as possible. I was just happy to be that close to her.”
Coach Pat Kelly of Victoria could only rave.
“That was certainly impressive. The most impressive thing was she had a really good swim (Sunday). She’s not used to finishing the swim at the front.”
The most impressive thing now is the lead she’s built up. Findlay has 1,600 points in the standings with only Barbara Riveros Diaz of Chile (1,326), Andrea Hewitt of New Zealand (1,318), Laura Bennett of the USA (1006) and Helen Jenkins of Great Britain (806) who could catch her if she decided not to race the next one.
“Oh, I’m racing the next one,” she said.