Water and air temperatures in the mid-50s and a steady rain made for less than ideal conditions for the 112 athletes competing at the ITU Junior Triathlon World Championship on Thursday in Vancouver, Canada.
Though they suffered through hand-numbing temperatures, all four U.S. athletes finished the 750m swim, 20K bike, and 5K run, with Greg Billington's 24th place finish topping the boys and Lauren Goldstein-Kral's 32nd place result leading the girls. First-year worlds' participants Kevin McDowell and Natalie Russell finished 44th and 43rd in their respective races.
It was a disappointing day for Goldstein-Kral (Shaker Heights, Ohio), the 2007 U.S. Junior Elite Athlete of the Year, who crashed out of last year's event. This year, another crash starting the fourth bike lap cost her precious time and put her finishing time at 1:07:22, just over three minutes behind winner Kirsty McWilliam of Great Britain.
Russell (Batavia, Ill.), the 2007 USAT Junior National Champion, was excited to compete with a tough group of international athletes. "The swim was long, but once we got on the bike it was good," she said. "It was sweet to have [my team] here cheering. It was definitely a different field than I have ever raced in, but it was a great experience."
Billington (Spokane, Wash.), who had been performing well in training, never got into a groove this day. He came out of the water in 28th, struggled in transition and was unable to make up much ground on the bike or run.
Billington, the 2007 USAT Junior Elite Athlete of the Year and National Champion felt the effects of the cold the entire race. "It was a cold, tough day today," he said. "The swim was freezing; it didn't go as I planned. I stuck with my pack on the bike. The run didn't go as planned. I gave it everything I could today. It was a cold race. I'm still disappointed with what happened."
McDowell (Geneva, Ill.) produced a solid performance for his first world championship event. "It was an interesting experience. I just want to keep moving forward," said McDowell.
Junior Girls Championship
- Kirsty McWilliam (GBR) 1:01:04
- Ashleigh Gentile (AUS) 1:04:43
- Zsofia Toth (HUN) 1:04:47
32. Lauren Goldstein-Kral (Shaker Heights, Ohio) 1:07:37
43. Natalie Russell (Batavia, Ill.) 1:10:54
Junior Boys Championship
- Vincent Luis (FRA) 57:06
- Denis Vasiliev (RUS) 57:36
- Jonathon Brownlee (GBR) 57:43
24. Greg Billington (Spokane, Wash.) 59:24
44. Kevin McDowell (Geneva, Ill.) 1:00:44
Remaining World Championship Schedule
Friday, June 6: Sprint World Championship
Saturday, June 7: Age Group and Physically Challenged World Championships
Sunday, June 8: U23 and Elite World Championships