COZUMEL, Mexico — U.S. junior triathletes Austin Hindman and Taylor Knibb won their first-ever world titles on Friday at Marina Fonatur, becoming the first nation to earn gold in both the men’s and women’s ITU Junior World Championships in the same year in more than two decades.
Hindman (Wildwood, Mo.) posted the winning time of 54 minutes, 2 seconds on the 750-meter swim, 20-kilometer bike, 5-kilometer run course on Friday afternoon, besting Canadian Charles Paquet by 10 seconds. Paquet picked up the silver medal in 54:12, and Ben Dijkstra of Great Britain took the bronze in 54:20.
Hindman competed in Junior Worlds last year, which was changed to a duathlon due to weather, and finished 25th. On Friday, he connected with the lead bike pack and was able to position himself toward the front at the start of the 5k run. Hindman’s 5k split of 15:47 was the second fastest in the field, and helped secure his title. The victory from Hindman marks the third world title won by U.S. junior men. Lukas Verzbicas won in 2011, and Steve Duplinsky won in 2005.
"I was not in the best position coming out of T2 and I wasn’t sure how it would affect my run, but I came off the bike feeling good and just started to work my way up one by one,” Hindman said. “I ended up in a really good position by the last lap and just went for the win and it paid off. I couldn’t be happier. After crashing twice last year and the race being changed to a duathlon, I was pretty demoralized. Coming into this race I was really motivated and just wanted to prove myself on the world stage. It feels amazing to come away with a great race."
Knibb (Washington, D.C.) won a silver medal at Junior Worlds last year and was a favorite to win based on her results this season. Her final time of 59:05 was 36 seconds faster than silver medalist Lisa Tertsch of Germany, who finished in 59:41, while Korea’s Hye Rim Jeong finished with bronze in 59:50. Kyleigh Spearing (Frankfort, Ill.) also improved on her 2015 finish, ending the race in ninth.
Typically a front-pack swimmer, Knibb trailed the field coming out of the water by 43 seconds, but quickly made her way through the field and was at the front of a large pack of 32 women by the end of the first bike lap. Knibb then continued to put time on the field and was riding solo by the end of the third lap. On the final lap, Knibb extended her bike lead to 30 seconds, and maintained the advantage throughout the 5k run. En route to victory, Knibb posted the fastest bike split (29:42 for 20k) and the second fastest run (18:00 for 5k). Knibb’s win is only the second world title ever won by a U.S. junior woman, following Tamara Gorman’s 2013 title.
“I don’t think I can quite articulate it yet. This has been my goal all season, and I’ve had a different month because I went off to college, so it was full of unexpected things. I didn’t know how I would fare,” Knibb said. “I learned from last year. Last year I was more focused on, if I was in a group of two, getting away from the people behind me. This year I went for the win and tried to be patient. This was very much a patient race, and it’s thanks to all the opportunities I have been given this year.”
Before today, only one other nation had won both the men’s and women’s Junior Worlds titles in the same year. Australians Ben Bright and Clare Carney both won Junior World Championships gold in 1994 — before Hindman and Knibb were born.
The third day of world championship action in Cozumel began with Katie Gorczyca (Las Vegas, Nev.) and Bria Edwards (State College, Pa.) in the ITU Women's U23 World Championships.
The pair competed on a 1,500m swim, 40k bike and 10k run in their world championships debut, with Gorczyca finishing 15th and Edwards finishing 23rd. Germany's Laura Lindemann, who has won numerous Junior Worlds titles and competed in the Rio de Janeiro 2016 Olympic Games last month, grabbed her first U23 world title by 15 seconds over France's Leonie Periault. Periault's countrywoman Sandra Dodet rounded out the podium.
Gorczyca was in the main chase pack for the first half of the bike. The chase pack trailed a lead trio of women by more than a minute after the first lap, but once the chasers began to work together, they caught the lead group with 20k left to ride. Once out on the run, the 94 percent humidity played a factor for the field, but Lindemann held on for the win.
More junior and U23 racing will take place on Saturday in Cozumel, with the ITU U23/Junior Mixed Relay World Championship scheduled for 9 a.m. CT. Then the elite women will duke it out to see who will become the winner of the 2016 ITU World Triathlon Series at 4:30 p.m. CT. A complete schedule of events is available at cozumel.triathlon.org.
ITU Junior World Championships
750m swim, 20k bike, 5k run
Junior Men — Complete Results
1. Austin Hindman (Wildwood, Mo.), 54:02
2. Charles Paquet (CAN), 54:12
3. Ben Dijkstra (GBR), 54:20
18. Graham Pimentel (Naples, Fla.), 55:45
61. Grant Jarvis (Texarkana, Texas), 1:00:17
Junior Women — Complete Results
1. Taylor Knibb (Washington, D.C.), 59:05
2. Lisa Tertsch (GER), 59:41
3. Hye Rim Jeong (KOR), 59:50
9. Kyleigh Spearing (Frankfort, Ill.), 1:00:16
34. Audrey Ernst (South Elgin, Ill.), 1:03:57
ITU Women's U23 World Championships
1,500m swim, 40k bike, 10k run
1. Laura Lindemann (GER), 1:59:18
2. Leonie Periault (FRA), 1:59:33
3. Sandra Dodet (FRA), 2:00:05
15. Katie Gorczyca (Las Vegas, Nev.), 2:04:22
23. Bria Edwards (State College, Pa.), 2:06:48
About USA Triathlon
USA Triathlon is proud to serve as the National Governing Body for triathlon, as well as duathlon, aquathlon, aquabike, winter triathlon, off-road triathlon and paratriathlon in the United States. Founded in 1982, USA Triathlon sanctions more than 4,300 races and connects with nearly 500,000 members each year, making it the largest multisport organization in the world. In addition to its work with athletes, coaches, and race directors on the grassroots level, USA Triathlon provides leadership and support to elite athletes competing at international events, including International Triathlon Union (ITU) World Championships, Pan American Games and the Olympic and Paralympic Games. USA Triathlon is a proud member of the ITU and the United States Olympic Committee (USOC).