Canadian Rookie Posts Major Triathlon Win

Paula Findlay Wins Gold on Olympic Course in London

How is this for a good news sport story in the hazy days of summer?

A Canadian rookie triathlete goes to London and wins the gold medal in her very first World Championship Triathlon Series race. The rookie is only 21 years old and the race featured many of the world’s top women’s triathletes. And here’s the real kicker: That gold medal came on the same course that will be used during the 2012 Olympic Games.

Her name is Paula Findlay and with any luck Canadian sport fans will be hearing from her many more times in the coming years. On July 24, she hung tough during the swimming portion, caught up to the race leaders halfway through the cycling portion, and took the lead for good during the final run, about 800 metres from the finish line.

“Oh my God this is so unbelievable,” said a shocked Findlay after the win. “I felt better than ever on the run today, and just kept pushing as hard as I could.”

The Olympic course weaves through London’s Hyde Park, a flat and thus relatively fast course. The swim takes place in Serpentine, a lake in the middle of the downtown park. The 40 km cycle laps the park eight times, before the last 10 km run. For Findlay, it’s a matter of hanging in during the swim – which can often feature rough water – gaining momentum on the bike, then going for it during the run.

Another Canadian triathlete races in largely the same fashion: Olympic gold and silver medallist Simon Whitfield.

Findlay will no longer cruise under the radar after this momentous win that caught the attention of her triathlon rivals. The race featured three triathletes who finished in the top-10 at the 2008 Olympic Games. Triathlon Canada treated this race as a rehearsal for London 2012, sending along all support staff just as it would during an Olympic Games.

And boy did Findlay respond. The race featured three other Canadian women as well. Montreal’s Kathy Tremblay was 38th while Victoria’s Kirsten Sweetland finished 45th. Kyla Coates, also of Victoria, suffered a bike crash and didn’t finish.

The best Olympic women’s triathlon mark for Canada is 31st, set by Isabelle Turcotte-Baird in 2000.