Matt McElroy (USA) earned a silver medal Sunday in the fourth stop of the 2019 ITU World Triathlon Series in Leeds, England — marking the first WTS medal for a U.S. man since Jarrod Shoemaker in 2009, and the highest finish in McElroy’s career.
The men’s field was one of the deepest in WTS history, featuring the “Magnificent Seven”: two-time Olympic champion Alistair Brownlee and two-time Olympic medalist Jonny Brownlee of Great Britain; five-time world champion Javier Gomez Noya and three-time world champion Mario Mola of Spain; current WTS leader Vincent Luis of France; and WTS powerhouses Henri Schoeman and Richard Murray of South Africa.
McElroy was 20 seconds back from swim leader Schoeman coming out of the water, but a quick transition put him in the lead pack of about 27 on the bike. It was anyone’s game heading onto the run, as the 27 leading men left transition in a tight pack. The group started to thin out around the second lap, and McElroy was one of five men to make a move up front. As the American ran alongside Gomez Noya, Birtwhistle, Schoeman and New Zealand’s Sam Ward, it became clear that the podium would come from those five.
Birtwhistle surged to the lead in the final 2k, running to victory. Just behind him, McElroy outsprinted the legendary Gomez Noya to take the silver in 1:45:19. The five-time world champion from Spain crossed the finish line two seconds later to round out the podium.
“I’ve had five World Cup podiums, but to finally make a statement on the WTS scene is life-changing,” McElroy said. “It feels amazing, honestly — the best achievement I’ve ever had in my life and in my sport career. It was pretty unpredictable. I think today I just did everything right. The swim, bike, run combo was spot on, and my mindset going into the race was very positive. I’m excited for the future.”
The last time a U.S. man medaled in the ITU World Triathlon Series was in 2009 (under its previous name, the ITU World Championship Series), when Jarrod Shoemaker won gold in Hamburg, Germany.
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2019 ITU WTS Leeds
Leeds, England – June 9, 2019
1.5K swim, 40K bike, 10K run
1. Jacob Birtwhistle (AUS) 1:45:12
2. Matt McElroy (USA) 1:45:19
3. Javier Gomez Noya (ESP) 1:45:21
4. Henri Schoeman (RSA) 1:45:31
5. Sam Ward (NZL) 1:45:42