(Triathlon) Taylor Knibb strikes gold

Sports | 14 Sep 2018 7:33 pm

American Taylor Knibb executed a perfect race today to win gold at the ITU Triathlon Under-23 World Championships in Gold Coast, Australia, finishing more than a minute-and-a-half ahead of her closest competitor.

Knibb, the 2016 and 2017 junior world champion, is only the third woman in ITU history to claim world titles at both the junior and U23 levels. Tamara Gorman, who also competed today, won U23 Worlds last year and claimed the junior title in 2013. Germany’s Laura Lindemann won Junior Worlds in 2014 and 2015 before claiming the U23 title in 2016.

The U23 World Championships course featured a 1,500-meter swim in the Coral Sea at Broadwater Tourist Park, a 38-kilometer bike along Gold Coast Highway and a 10-kilometer run finishing at Mitchell Park.

Knibb started her day strong, exiting the swim in third place just steps behind Great Britain’s Sophie Alden and France’s Cassandre Beaugrand. On the bike, she played to her strengths and immediately pulled off on a solo breakaway. With each passing lap, she widened her lead on the 11-strong chase group — which included the United States’ other two competitors, Gorman and Erika Ackerlund. By the time she hit the run course, Knibb had more than two-and-a-half minutes on the rest of the field.

Beaugrand, the strongest runner in the field, did her best to cut into Knibb’s lead — and while a race-leading 35-minute, 3-second 10k tightened the gap slightly, Knibb held strong with a 36:13. In the end, Knibb was all on her own down the finish chute to take the world title with a total time of 1:53:47.

The French star would claim silver in 1:55:22, and Italy’s Angelica Olmo rounded out the podium in 1:56:39.

Knibb said she knew Beaugrand was making a move behind her, and she wasn’t discounting the Frenchwoman who ran a commanding 15:48 5k to win ITU World Triathlon Hamburg earlier this year.

"It’s not over until it’s over. That’s the fun thing about triathlon, but it’s also the nerve-wracking thing. It’s not over until you cross that finish line,” Knibb said. "I started my season very rough, so to be able to end it well, I think that speaks dividends to my support team.”

Ackerlund had a strong race, running her way into fifth place in 1:57:18. After sitting out of U23 Worlds last year due to illness, Friday’s race marked Ackerlund’s first-ever Olympic-distance triathlon.

Gorman finished 18th, crossing the line in 2:00:12.

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