Findlay's grand return

Paula Findlay is still in recovery but has a legitimate shot at getting a top ranking for the ITU....

Paula Findlay is still in recovery but has a legitimate shot at getting a top ranking for the ITU. (QMI Agency file photo)

TERRY JONES, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 7:06 PM ET

EDMONTON - When you think about it, Edmontonís Paula Findlay has had the same sort of record as the Eskimos.

Win. Win. Win. Win. Win. Get injured. Lose. Lose. Lose.

And now itís Labour Day.

Actually, thatís not quite right. Now itís Grey Cup.

Sunday the redhead races the Grand Final of the International Triathlon Unionís World Championship Series in Beijing.

The 22-year-old who burst on the scene virtually out of nowhere last year to win her first event on the Hyde Park Olympic course in London followed by a win in Kitzbuhel, Austria, and then opened this season with wins in Sydney, Madrid and Kitzbuhel, totally dominated the series for five consecutive races.

Then came the Edmonton World Cup stop in early July and the tearful withdrawal an hour before the event due to a hip injury.

She hasnít been the same since.

Returning to the series ó still trying to get back to 100% health ó to defend her title in London at the important pre-Olympic event, she finished 29th.

Another setback followed when she returned to Canada for nationals in Kelowna in August and finished second in that.

From Beijing Thursday, Findlay said she feels itís coming back together but thereís no pre-race declaration offering that sheís completely confident sheíll make her way back to the front of the pack.

ďMy fitness is much better than it was heading to London, as Iíve been consistently running since that race,Ē she said.

ďI still donít feel as confident in my running as I did leading into the early-season races, however Iím in a much better state than I was a month ago, so Iím optimistic for the race on Sunday.Ē

Whatever doesnít kill you makes you stronger?

ďItís been a really tough back end to the season for me. Itís a long racing season from the beginning of April to the end of September and itís hard for any athlete to be in peak form for that long.

ďThe injury that appeared before the Edmonton race took away a lot of my training over the past few months. It led to some really disappointing results, but Iím trying to remember that next year matters the most and I have had some excellent races earlier in the year.

ďIíve learned to deal with media and pressure surrounding an unfortunate circumstance so I can handle it better if it were to happen again.Ē

Still, the line on Findlay in her entire World Championship Series career looks like this: 1, 1, 5, 1, 1, 1, 29.

Thatís a whale of a record.

The fifth was from the Grand Final in Budapest last year.

ďThis is the most important race of the year to me because it is the Grand Final and ultimately decides the podium for the overall series,Ē she said.

ďIt will be a good confidence booster heading into next year if I have a good race on Sunday, however Iím being realistic with my goals since Iím not in the same form I was earlier in the season.Ē

Because Findlay passed on the series race in Hamburg to enter the Edmonton event and then chose not to race in Lausanne in August, sheís dropped to third in the standings.

Helen Jenkins of Great Britain now leads with 2,913 points, followed by Barbara Riveros-Diaz of Chile at 2,712 and Canadaís Findlay at 2,637, one point ahead of Andrea Hewitt of New Zealand.

Grand Final points are worth 50% more than the other events and thereís a rescheduled race in Yokohama to come.

ďIím trying not to analyze the standings too much. I just want to go out and put my best effort on Sunday. I could go through and figure out how many places ahead of each girl I need to take the lead but ultimately I have no control over any of my competitors or how the race will play out. I only can try for my best possible race and hope that bumps me up in the standings at the end of the day.Ē

What she doesnít say is that in the final ITU rankings, only the athleteís top four results count. You work it out. Findlay has three firsts. Get on the podium and drop the 29th Ö

Itís still there for her. Very much there.

Follow me on Twitter.com/sunterryjones

terry.jones@sunmedia.ca


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