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Summer Cook Takes Gold, U.S. Athletes Win Three Medals in Miyazaki ITU World Cup Closer

By USA Triathlon | Nov. 10, 2018, 11:29 a.m. (ET)

MIYAZAKI, Japan — Summer Cook (Thornton, Colo.) closed her season in style Saturday with a win in the ITU Triathlon World Cup closer in Miyazaki, Japan, successfully defending her title from 2017. She had familiar company on the podium, as U.S. teammate and training partner Chelsea Burns (Seattle, Wash.) grabbed the silver medal. On the men’s side, Eli Hemming (Kiowa, Colo.) grabbed his second consecutive ITU World Cup podium with a silver.

The course in Miyazaki featured a two-lap 1,500-meter swim, seven-lap 40-kilometer bike and four-lap 10-kilometer run. 

Cook had a false start at the beginning of the women’s race that would have her serving a 15-second penalty in the first transition. Knowing the penalty was ahead, Cook pushed the pace on the swim and emerged alongside Brazil’s Vittoria Lopes with more than 20 seconds on of the rest of the field. Cook had plenty of time to serve the penalty in T1 and then work with Japan’s Yuko Takahashi and Australia’s Jaz Hedgeland to chase down Lopes by the second lap. 

Burns, meanwhile, was in a chase pack working with teammates Erika Ackerlund (Missoula, Mont.) and Renée Tomlin (Ocean City, N.J.), along with strong riders like Italy’s Annamaria Mazzetti and Switzerland’s Julie Derron. By the third lap, the chase group had caught the leading four. 

Onto the run, it was Ackerlund and Australia’s Charlotte McShane who had the early advantage. It didn’t take Cook long to work her way up to the front, though, and Burns stayed right on her heels. At the halfway point, Cook and Burns had built a gap of 20 seconds on the rest of the runners. Ultimately, it was Cook who took the tape with a total time of 2 hours, 1 minute, 1 second. Burns was close behind to take silver in 2:01:11. Spain’s Miriam Casillas Garcia held off the rest of the chasers to take the bronze medal in 2:01:54. 

Ackerlund ultimately finished eighth with a time of 2:03:17, and Tomlin was just behind her for ninth in 2:03:28. 

The win marked Cook’s second ITU World Cup victory of 2018, and seventh of her career. She has found consistent success in Miyazaki, taking silver here in 2016 before back-to-back wins in 2017 and 2018. 

The silver marks a career-best ITU World Cup finish for Burns, as her other three career podiums on the circuit have been bronze.

“Chelsea is one of my training partners, and she is a very strong runner,” Cook said. “I think we worked well together trying to build a gap. It’s pretty hard to race this late in the season, so it felt good to be running with a training partner and a friend.”

Cook and the rest of the U.S. contingent now look ahead to 2019, a season that will be critical in determining the members of the U.S. Olympic Triathlon Team for the Tokyo 2020 Games. 

“I’m looking to build upon my finishes in the World Triathlon Series next year and put myself in contention to qualify for Tokyo. We have a very strong American women’s team, and it’s great because we’re all pushing each other to be better and rising to the occasion. I’m looking to up my game next season.”

In the men’s race, New Zealand’s Trent Thorpe was first out of the water with a group of strong swimmers right on his heels. The leaders, which also included the likes of Japan’s Jumpei Furuya and Italy’s Gianluca Pozzatti, would form a 13-strong pack on the bike. Hemming found himself in the chase pack, but he worked together with Australia’s Ryan Bailie and Spain’s Vicente Hernandez to catch the leaders by the end of the second lap.

Furuya and his Japanese teammate Ren Sato went for a breakaway on the final lap of the bike, positioning themselves out front at the start of the run to put on a show for the hometown crowd. 

It didn’t take long for Hernandez and Hemming to reel them in, though. By the 5k mark, the Spaniard and the American had built 20 seconds over the rest of the field. It was a banner day for Hernandez as he grabbed the tape in 1:49:11. Hemming secured the silver medal with a time of 1:49:30, and Italy’s Delian Stateff emerged for the bronze in 1:49:48.  

The silver-medal performance is the cherry on top of a breakout season for Hemming. He started the year with two victories in CAMTRI Sprint Triathlon American Cup competition in Florida, before helping Team USA to a gold medal in the first stop of the ITU World Triathlon Mixed Relay Series in Nottingham, England.

Hemming notched a career-best 11th-place ITU World Triathlon Series finish in April in Bermuda, and went on to place 16th at the ITU World Triathlon Grand Final in Gold Coast, Australia, to lead all Americans in the men’s race. He earned his first career ITU World Cup medal in October with a bronze Tongyeong, South Korea, and two weeks later earned a silver here in Miyazaki.

Also racing for the U.S. men were Jason West (Boulder, Colo.), 17th in 1:51:47; Seth Rider (Germantown, Tenn.), 20th in 1:52:01; and Collin Chartier (Fairfax, Va.), 50th in 1:56:19.

The 2019 ITU Triathlon World Cup circuit makes its first stop in Cape Town, South Africa, from Feb. 9-10.

Miyazaki ITU Triathlon World Cup 
1,500m swim, 40k bike, 10k run

Elite Women — Complete Results

1. Summer Cook (Thornton, Colo.), 2:01:01
2. Chelsea Burns (Seattle, Wash.), 2:01:11
3. Miriam Casillas Garcia (ESP), 2:01:54

U.S. Finishers
1. Summer Cook (Thornton, Colo.), 2:01:01
2. Chelsea Burns (Seattle, Wash.), 2:01:11
8. Erika Ackerlund (Missoula, Mont.), 2:03:17
9. Renée Tomlin (Ocean City, N.J.), 2:03:28

Elite Men — Complete Results

1. Vicente Hernandez (ESP), 1:49:11
2. Eli Hemming (Kiowa, Colo.), 1:49:30
3. Delian Stateff (ITA), 1:49:48

U.S. Finishers
2. Eli Hemming (Kiowa, Colo.), 1:49:30
17. Jason West (Boulder, Colo.), 1:51:47
20. Seth Rider (Germantown, Tenn.), 1:52:01
50. Collin Chartier (Fairfax, Va.), 1:56:19  

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 events and connects with more than 400,000 members each year, making it the largest multisport organization in the world. In addition to its work at the grassroots level with athletes, coaches, and race directors — as well as the USA Triathlon Foundation — 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).

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Chelsea Burns

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Eli Hemming

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Renée Tomlin