Triathlon Canada announced its Olympic team last week after the country was one of just five to secure a full men’s and women’s teams. The men’s team is led by two-time Olympian and 2000 gold medalist Simon Whitfield. He will be joined in Beijing by first-time Olympians Paul Tichelaar and Colin Jenkins for the 2008 Olympic Games. On the women’s side, Carolyn Murray and Kathy Tremblay were selected to join previously qualified Lauren Groves.
Whitfield qualified for the team based on 2007 results of a top-8 finish at both a World Cup event and the World Championships, while Tichelaar and Jenkins were nominated to the team for submission to the Canadian Olympic Committee late Sunday night by Triathlon Canada’s selection committee.
Whitfield, the number three Canadian at number 12 in the world cup rankings, won the Ishigaki BG Triathlon World Cup in 2008 – the only world cup race he has competed in this year. At age 33, the veteran completed eight World Cup races in 2007 and ended the year ranked second in the world cup rankings. With his heart set on a second gold medal after his well known gold medal performance at the 2000 Olympic Games in Sydney, Whitfield finished 11th at the 2004 Athens Olympics. At the world championships in Hamburg last year, he finished fourth, following that up with a sixth place finish at the world championships in Vancouver last weekend.
Tichelaar, 25, is the top Canadian male on the World Cup rankings, sitting at an impressive sixth thanks to top-8 performances at Mooloolaba, New Plymouth and Tongyeong BG Triathlon World Cup events. He proved yet again that he can compete with the best of them when he came in ninth at the world championships in Vancouver this past weekend. His breakthrough year came in 2006 when he notched his first World Cup top-8 finish (in Edmonton) and came in eighth at the Commonwealth Games. Tichelaar didn’t slow down in 2007, posting three top-8 World Cup performances including a silver medal in Cancun.
Jenkins, also 25, had four top-20 World Cup finishes in 2007, including in Vancouver where he finished in seventh place. Ranked 47th in the World Cup rankings after the 2007 season, Jenkins is an incredibly strong swimmer and cyclist and has been named to the team to help Whitfield’s efforts to the podium.
On the women’s side, all three will be making their Olympic debuts as they gun for a medal in Beijing.
Groves qualified for the team based on 2007 results of a top-8 finish at a world cup event and a top-16 result at the 2007 world championships, while Murray and Tremblay were nominated to the team for submission to the Canadian Olympic Committee by Triathlon Canada’s selection committee.
After struggling with injuries for a good part of 2008, Groves, 26, won the silver medal at the 2008 Mazatlan PATCO Pan American Championships and finished 13th at both the Tongyeong and Richards Bay World Cups. She placed eighth at the world cup events in Edmonton and Vancouver and was 14th at the 2007 world championships. She reached a career-high world cup ranking of third after the 2006 Edmonton world cup and again after the 2006 world championships where she placed seventh and fourth respectively. Groves currently sits 46th on the world cup rankings.
Murray, 31, had the best race of her career at the Richards Bay BG Triathlon World Cup in South Africa this past May, finishing first to capture her first world cup gold medal. The win allowed her to crack the top-10 of the World Cup rankings, although she currently sits at number 17. Murray also had a top-20 finish at the New Plymouth world cup this year and in 2007, she had three top-15 world cup performances. She finished 24th at the world championships in Vancouver this past weekend.
Tremblay, 25, is the top-ranked Canadian in the world cup rankings at number 14, largely thanks to two impressive world cup races this past spring. She raced her way to a fifth-place finish at Ishigaki in April and followed that up with a fourth-place performance at Richards Bay in May. Tremblay won her first world cup medal in Mazatlan, Mexico in 2006 where she won bronze. The 2007 Canadian Champion was also the top Canadian at the world championships on the weekend, placing 21st.
This marks the first time Canada has qualified to send a team of six triathletes to the Olympic Games. Only four other countries – the U.S., New Zealand, Germany and Switzerland – qualified to send both three men and three women to Beijing.
Kathy Tremblay, the top Canadian woman at world championships
|Results: Elite Women|