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Triathletes triumph

Justin Marville

Triathletes triumph

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EVERYTHING WAS GOING WRIGHT for Barbados until the final moments.
For two-thirds of the race, the home country was in prime medal position, but recovering hometown hero Matthew Wright eventually settled for a creditable ninth-place showing at yesterday’s Pan American Sprint Triathlon Cup series on Spring Garden.
Canadian Alexander Hinton used a strong run to power away from Tommy Zaferes over the final 400 metres and win the men’s event in 56 minutes, 53.12 seconds, after Mexican Ariana Barraza (1:03.09) had simply run off with the women’s equivalent.
But with last year’s champion Jason Wilson out injured, the real story was the much-awaited return of Wright, who recently returned from a sixth-month lay-off after battling a myriad of injuries.
And the fans weren’t disappointed, not after he gave them every reason to hope while transitioning to the race’s last phase – the 5K run – in second place.
It just wasn’t to be for the former CARIFTA 1 500 gold medallist, even as he was entering his strongest leg, as Wright ultimately succumbed to a lack of fitness.
“I am at 80 per cent now after enduring two years of injuries so my body is nowhere where it used to be,” explained Wright, who fell off the pace in the first lap.
“Maybe, how I used to run in 2011, I could’ve won [but] it has been injury after injury then a sixth-month lay-off, so I am still trying to catch up to where I was in 2011. Overall I can’t complain at all and I am very, very satisfied with today’s effort,” he added.
So too was the fervent home support, who cheered on Wright when he finished the 750-metre swim – customarily his weakest segment –  inside the top 15 behind initial leaders Zaferes and Venezuelan Luis Velasquez.
However, the front runners threatened to ride away with top two positions after opening as much as a 20-second gap on that chasing pack, which included Wright and Hinton.
The peloton eventually reeled them in on the penultimate lap of the 20K ride, with Wright leading the charge before jumping off the bike right behind Zaferes in the transition to the run.
But Wright faded quickly, dropping to as low as 11th while Hinton, eventual third-place finisher Manuel Huerta of Puerto Rico and Italian Gianluca Pozatti joined Zaferes up front on the first lap.
Hinton and Zaferes subsequently dropped the other two, before Zaferes also wilted under the ever-climbing heat to watch the strong Canadian finisher power away over the final 400-metre stretch.
“I thought I was going to pass out because it was so hot when it came down to the last kilometre with me and Zaferes battling each other,” said Hinton.
“He made a pretty big move but I still had one more gear in the end so I was pretty happy.”
Earlier, Barraza opened up a 50-metre lead on the nearest competitor from the first lap of the run before winning by about 31 seconds.
This was after American Erin Jones was first out of the water, and then led a five-man lead group in the cycling that included Barraza, Aussie Ellie Salthouse, Canadian Dominika Jamnicki and Militza Rios of Puerto Rico.
However, Barraza left them all in her wake when they all transitioned to the run, with Salthouse proving the lone competition some 50 metres back at the end of the first lap.
    Salthouse (1:03.40) quickly settled for second spot as the determined Mexican continued to pull away while Jones (1:04.12) eventually came home in third.
    “I just tried to stay with them on the bike and then I wanted to give it my best in the run,” said Barraza.
“There was a lot of humidity but it was still good because there wasn’t a lot of sun.”
The race is just one of many legs in the triathlon series, which moves on to Mexico and then Dallas.
In the opening event of the day, the fast-rising Oein Josiah (10:21) stunned Jerome Blackett (10:36) to take the 3K race. Pierre Stanford was third in a time of 10:36 minutes.