Aquathlon races see British women start the Edmonton gold rush

GB athletes stake their podium places in age-group and paratri races yesterday, as six-day multisport festival gets underway in Canada

Athletes enter the water for aquathlon races at WTS Grand Final 2014

Britain’s ever-youthful women led the way as an afternoon of aquathlon served as the appetiser for the TransCanada Corp. World Triathlon Grand Final in Edmonton, Canada.

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With elite, under-23, junior, paratri and age-group racers all tackling the 750m swim and 4.6km run format, it was two Barbaras, Holmes (F55-59) and Walton (F65-69) that topped the podium for Team GB alongside visually-impaired Melissa Reid (FPT5). The 23-year-old from Truro is also the reigning world champion in the Tri6 category. 

Triathletes from 73 nations are competing over the six-day festival and many seized the opportunity for course familiarisation and one last hard training session before the sprint and standard distance races from Friday to Monday.

Peggy Chrome (F70-74), Jane Leslie (F65-69), Janette Carte (F40-44) and Vicky Tester (F30-34) all took runners-up spots for Britain, with Beverley Childs (F55-59) grabbing bronze. Michael Birchmore (M20-24) was the only British male on the podium in third.

The elite aquathlon has been won by some big names in multisport since the event’s inception on the ITU calendar in 1998. Slovakian Richard Varga, an occasional training partner of the Brownlees, has won the title three times in the past four years, and Britain’s Richard Stannard also has a hat-trick of successes, with his most recent victory being in 2011. 220 columnist Tim Don also took the honours in 2005.

There has never been a British winner in the women’s elite race, but USA’s Sarah Groff, who could win the triathlon world title on Saturday if her countrywoman Gwen Jorgensen slips up, did triumph seven years ago.

Only seven took to the start for the men’s race where Yuichi Hosoda and Ryousuke Yamamoto secured a one-two for Japan with Neil Eddy finishing fifth for Team GB, an improvement on his ninth-place in Hyde Park last year.

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There were just four in the women’s event, where Hillingdon’s Hannah Kitchen led out of the swim before finishing third behind New Zeland’s Anneke Jenkins and Yuliya Yelistratova of Ukraine.