TORONTO -- With the opportunity to bring home the first medals for the United States at the 2015 Pan American Games, Team USA was unable to land on the podium in women’s triathlon for only the second time at Pan Am Games history.
Chile, Mexico and Bermuda took home their first medals as Barbara Riveros, Paola Diaz and Flora Duffy made the podium. American Chelsea Burns finished fifth with a time of 1:58:29 as her teammates Sarah Haskins and Erin Jones took eighth and 19th, respectively.
With near-perfect conditions on the shores of Lake Ontario, Haskins took an early lead in the water.
Even as one of the first three swimmers out of the water, Haskins stayed behind an extra 40 seconds in the transition area to allow Burns to catch up.
“We went in with 100 percent team tactics,” Haskins said. “I wanted to be up front after the swim and evaluate from there. My job was to get both girls to the front group.”
By the end of the third bike lap, Haskins had pushed Burns and caught the chase group.
“My job was to help pull Chelsea up to the front,” Haskins said.
Haskins then kept pace at the front of the chasing group on the bike and led the racers through the last lap. With two Americans in the pack just seconds behind the leaders, the scene was set for a quick, fast-paced 10-kilometer run.
“Our team strategy was to get Sarah in a place where she would do everything she could do to help me off the bike,” Burns said.
Canada’s Paula Findlay sung Haskins’ praises as well: “The Americans changed up the race so much with Sarah Haskins because she just drove the pack to the front almost singlehandedly — she’s so strong. She’s strong on the bike, that’s her specialty, so she changed the dynamic a lot.”
While Haskins helped Burns move into a better position by the start of the run, it wasn’t enough to hold off Riveros of Chile, who took home Chile’s first women’s triathlon gold at Pan Ams.
“I’m proud of Chelsea and Erin in their first Pan Ams,” Haskins said. “There was a very strong contingent racing today.”
Sarah Higgins is the digital media coordinator at the U.S. Olympic Committee. Previously, she covered collegiate athletics at NCAA.com in Atlanta and the London 2012 Olympic Games with the USOC from Colorado Springs, Colorado.