Women during the triathlon competition at Playa Chorrillos at the Pan American Games Lima 2019 on July 27, 2019 in Lima, Peru.
LIMA, PERU - USA Triathlon barely missed the podium in both the men’s and women’s individual events at the Pan American Games Lima 2019 on July 27 at Playa Agua Dulce. In the women’s event, Sophie Chase posted a fourth-place finish, only 21 seconds away from a podium finish. William Huffman, the top U.S. male finisher, crossed the tape in fifth place with a time of 1:51:09. It was a strong showing from a group that was making its first appearance in the Pan Am Games.
Chase, the former Stanford University cross country star, was all smiles after crossing the finish line in fourth place. She felt that a three-week hiatus she took from the sport just one month ago proved beneficial.
“It was a break for physical and mental health reasons,” she said minutes after crossing the finish line. “I just really needed some time away from the sport to kind of reassess my situation, kind of regain that joy and love for the sport, and I’ve really found that over the past couple of weeks.”
The temporary break from the sport allowed her to regain her focus for this race.
“Obviously this is a really tough sport,” Chase said. “And sometimes you go through those periods where you struggle with just finding purpose in it...I felt that a little time away reignited that for me. So, I’m just super grateful to be here and be back racing again.”
Chase crossed the finish line with a time of 2:02:28. This was just 1:34 behind first place finisher, Brazil’s Lusia Baptista, and 0:21 behind the bronze medalist, Cecilia Gabriel Perez Flores of Mexico.
“I think I just needed one extra lap,” she said. “I know I was gaining on the girl in third, and I chipped away about 15 seconds on that last lap. And I just wish I had that last lap.”
Regardless, Chase was proud of her overall performance today.
“I was really happy with my execution, particularly on the second lap of the swim, as well as the bike,” she said. “Just putting myself in a good position and trying to conserve energy as well as be a contributing member of the group.”
Chase exited the swimming portion in fourth place, 58 seconds behind the eventual silver medalist, Vittoria Lopes of Brazil. She felt her style of swimming was well suited for the chilly temperatures of the Pacific Ocean.
“I’m kind of more of a strength swimmer, so I enjoyed the surf and the colder water,” she stated.
Chase climbed up to second place after the bike, posting a time of 1:04:41, good enough for the sixth-fastest bike time of the race.
“It was awesome to kind of get a good bike working,” she added. “I loved the hill and the downhill as well.”
Chase also posted the sixth fastest run of the race, with a time of 36:30. Despite finishing one spot off the podium, Chase was proud of what she had accomplished today.
“It was such a great day. Really, really awesome course,” she said. “It’s funny, I mean obviously the Pan American Games is such an incredible opportunity, and to have it be my first race back after a little time off, I’m just so grateful.”
While Chase posted strong performances in all three events, it appeared as if she had trouble transitioning between events. It took her 0:58 to transition from swim to bike, and 0:32 from bike to run. These were the 16th and 19th best times, respectively.
Huffman also appeared to struggle when transitioning. Huffman exited the swim in first place, but took 0:54 to begin biking and slipped to fourth. It was the 23th transition time.
He slipped as far as 13th place during the biking portion before a fifth-place finish. Just after crossing the finish line, Huffman collapsed, exhausted, after posting the fourth-best running time of 31:41.
Three other Team USA athletes finished in the top half of the field in their respective divisions. Avery Evenson finished 14th in the women’s triathlon with a time of 2:08:20, while Austin Hindman finished 12th among the men in 1:52:03 and Jason West finished 15th in 1:53:19.
USA Triathlon will be back in action on Monday, July 29 during the mixed relay event.