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Paula Findlay and Simon Whitfield hit the start line of the national championships ready to showcase their talents to the country as two of the top triathletes in the world and delivered in a hard-fought battle to the finish line.
The two leaders of the Canadian team won the women’s and men’s 2010 national titles on Saturday in Kelowna.
Edmonton’s 21-year-old Findlay, who has enjoyed a breakthrough season by winning back-to-back World Championship Series races, one World Cup race and a Pan-Am Cup event, won the women’s event with a time of two hours, two minutes, 37 seconds.
“We had a plan going into this race. I was able to keep a really good tempo and it was a great race and a lot of fun,” said Findlay, who will now get set to head to the Grand Final in Budapest, Hungary. “This was a really good tune-up for Budapest.”
Findlay and Victoria’s Kirsten Sweetland stuck together for the bulk of the race, before Findlay kicked into high gear during the first five kilometers of the run and pulled away under rainy conditions.
“Paula followed her race plan of running a solid tempo race and executed it perfectly,” said Kurt Innes, high-performance director, Triathlon Canada. “Paula and Kirsten were exceptional, with very controlled runs and showcased to the country the talent and depth of our women’s program.”
Sweetland, also 21, clocked a second-place time of 2:03:25. Bermuda’s Flora Duffy rounded out the women’s podium in third at 2:04:47.
Meanwhile, Victoria’s Simon Whitfield successfully defended his national championship title on Saturday in his final preparation for the biggest race of the year in Budapest.
The 35-year-old Whitfield, who worked together in a pack of eight on the bike, pulled away in the run with Teck World Cup teammate, Kyle Jones of Oakville, Ont. The wily veteran grabbed the top spot on the podium with a winning time of 1:55:40.4, edging Jones by .2 seconds.
“He made that difficult,” said Whitfield. “This was a perfect tune-up race for Budapest and it was a really good reminder of how hard this sport is.”
Jones, who has had steady progress on the World Championship Series circuit this season, settled for the silver medal with a time of 1:55:40.6.
“Simon really showed great experience and was very complementary at the finish to Kyle’s fight,” said Innes. “Kyle continues to make steady progress and broke away with Simon on the run, but just wasn’t able to hold on in the end.”
Andrew Russell, of Victoria, finished third at 1:58:19.
Race recap courtesy of Triathlon Canada.