Queenslander Toby Powers has followed in the footsteps of some of Australia’s biggest names after a sterling performance to win the silver medal in the Junior World Triathlon Championship in Montreal overnight.
Heavy overnight rain affected the water quality, forcing officials to change the format from the traditional triathlon into a duathlon – taking out the swim and adding a whole new dimension to the day’s racing – but the Australian boys in particular took on the challenge.
And it was Powers who showed true grit right till the end to join the likes of fellow Hervey Bay product Matt Hauser onto the World Juniors podium.
Hauser won the World Junior title in 2017 after fellow Tokyo Olympian and fellow dual Commonwealth Games representative Jake Birtwhistle had finished second in 2014 – Birtwhistle winning the Under 23 crown in 2015.
The Australian boys Powers and fellow Queenslanders, Australian Junior track and field star Peyton Craig along with Mudgeeraba’s Brad Course, giving themselves every chance in the hustle and bustle of the first 2.5 kilometre run, which was followed by the 20km bike and the final five kilometre run.
A tight, technical bike course through the Montreal streets with no less than 18 x 90 degree turns and a 180 degree turn over the course of the four laps saw the Aussies jostling for the best positions.
The fast, flat conditions suited Powers, Craig and Course who jockeyed all day long as the race leads chopped and changed on the bike.
Only five seconds had separated the top 20 competitors heading into T1 and out onto the bike course, with eventual winner, Thomas Hansmaennel of France pushing the pace along with his compatriots.
They were all part of a big pack of 35 athletes, those at the back having to work hard at each 90-degree turn to close the gaps that kept forming with the Australians helping drive the pace out in front.
Onto the crucial final 5km run and it was the USA’s Luke Anthony who was into the lead over the opening 300m but Hansmaennel clearly had a plan, immediately going on the attack and extending a commanding and what would be an unbeatable lead over the chasers.
And it was Powers and another American Reese Vannerson who were eventually able to drop the other challengers and Peyton Craig wasn’t letting the elastic go either but was unable to reel in those ahead.
And with Hansmaennel home and hosed it was Powers who then found an extra gear to assure him of the silver ahead of bronze medallist Vannerson with Craig holding on to eighth as he now sets himself for the 1500m at the World Junior Athletics Championships, with Liam Dixon and Brad Course both recording DNFs.
And while France recorded three in the top five on the day, Australia was the only other country to have two finishes in the top ten.
In the women’s race South Australian Paige Cranage was the best of the Australians in 26th place, followed by Chloe Bateup in 32nd with Emma Olson-Keating a DNF.
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