In Sydney, to start the season, Paula Findlay proved she wasn’t some sort of one-year wonder.
In Madrid two weeks ago, the 22-year-old Edmonton triathlon competitor the world had never heard of a year ago, wearing No. 1 stenciled on her thighs and arms for the first time, had her confirmation day as an undeniable superstar of her sport.
So what exactly did the blue-eyed redhead prove Sunday in Kitzbuhel, Austria?
“I don’t know,” said Findlay, who once again took more time to tinkle in drug testing after the event than she did to swim, cycle and run her way to winning it.
“It kind of seems anti-climactic to the other two.”
Findlay successfully defended a major event championship for the first time in her career.
She made it five wins (in six career starts) to break the World Championship Series record of four set by Emma Moffat of Australia.
It was reported she’d also became the first female to win three in a row since Emma Carney of Australia in 1996 in World Cup events back before the Olympic debut of the sport at the 2000 Sydney Olympics when there was no super series like there is now.
“I feel like I started the sport so late that when something compares me to the legends, I don’t really know who they are,” Findlay said when presented with that.
The ITU corrected that stat, produced on the telecast, pointing out that Moffat’s four wins were all in 2009 and were all in a row. So that record isn’t hers to share yet.
The most impressive thing Findlay did Sunday was probably insure her first overall series title.
Findlay has collected 2,400 points from the first three series stops. Barbara Riveros Diaz of Chile is second (1,912), Andrea Hewitt of New Zealand third (1,685), Laura Bennett of the USA fourth (1,548), Helen Jenkins of Great Britain fifth (1,546) and Moffat sixth (1,261).
That’s a 488-point lead. In the men’s series Alistair Brownlee of Great Britain leads Alexander Brukhankov of Russia by a mere 27 points.
While there are still four events plus the World Championship Series Final in Beijing, only the top four placings plus the points (three for every two in the other events) produced in the final in China count toward the final standings.
Findlay will now pass on the next series stop in Hamburg, defend her London title in the pre-Olympic event in August, pass again on Lausanne, do the big one in Beijing and likely also compete in a rescheduled event tagged on to the end of the season in Yokohama.
“I flew up three or four times in the fall when Paula was in school in Edmonton to meet with her to sculpt the season and we’ve stuck to our schedule,” said coach Patrick Kelly. “Paula has been in Europe for five weeks and she’s a young girl who likes to be with her friends and family,” said Kelly of dialing it down until the Aug. 6-7 London race and then doing the same again until the two events in China and Japan in mid-September.
“By winning the first three she’s really piled up the points. She doesn’t have to go to events to pick up points.”
Eleven months into her big-league triathlon career, she is starting to get into some serious money.
With her debut wins in London and Kitzbuhel and a fifth in the World Championship Final in Budapest, to put her fifth overall in the series in only three events last year, Findlay took home $87,550.
So far this year she’s increased it by $56,000 to $143,550 including the $18,000 won Sunday. And the $55,000 top money for finishing first overall in points is basically now being held in trust for her.
And that doesn’t include the free accommodation and $1,000-an-event appearance money as a member of the Gold Group top eight, plus sponsor bonus money.
“I don’t think of the prize money at all while I’m racing and it is definitely not the reason why I do the sport. I would be just as happy with my results if there were no prize money involved,” she said.
“The ITU has done a fantastic job of raising the profile of the sport so we’re fortunate to have lots of prize money up for grabs at each event.
“I realize I’ve made quite a bit this past year with prize money and bonuses from my sponsors, but honestly the money is deposited right into the bank and I haven’t made any extravagant purchases. Yet.”