Team USA Claims Six Titles at ITU Age Group Sprint World Championships in Gold Coast

By USA Triathlon | Sept. 13, 2018, 10:08 a.m. (ET)

GOLD COAST, Australia — U.S. athletes collected six world titles and 13 medals overall at the ITU Age Group Sprint Triathlon World Championships in Gold Coast on Thursday, kicking off an exciting four days of racing at the ITU World Triathlon Grand Final. 

The Sprint World Championships featured a 750-meter swim, draft-legal 20-kilometer bike and 5-kilometer run, all centered around the Broadwater Parklands at Southport. Sprint-distance competitors qualified for Team USA by earning a top-six finish at the 2017 USA Triathlon Age Group Sprint National Championships in Omaha, Nebraska; a top-12 finish at the 2017 USA Triathlon Draft-Legal World Qualifier in Sarasota-Bradenton, Florida; or by placing near the top of the USA Triathlon year-end rankings for their respective age groups.

Team USA’s six world champions included: Todd Buckingham (M25-29, Big Rapids, Mich.), Kirsten Sass (F35-39, McKenzie, Tenn.), Lauren Jensen-McGinnis (F50-54, Muskego, Wis.), Missy LeStrange (F65-69, Visalia, Calif.), Jon Adamson (M80-84, Alpharetta, Ga.) and Wayne Fong (Chatsworth, Calif., M85-89).

With a win in the men’s 25-29 age group — crossing the line in 59 minutes, 3 seconds — Buckingham earned his first career world title. He was the men’s standard-distance world bronze medalist in Cozumel, Mexico, in 2016, but was competing today in the Sprint World Championships for the first time. 

“On the bike, it was four Aussies and me. We were all working really well together,” Buckingham said. “We’ve got our USA teammates out here, but on the bike working with the Aussies, it was cool the camaraderie between us. We’re all from all over the world, but when it comes down to it we’re all just out here trying to do our best. It’s awesome being out here getting to connect with these guys who otherwise I would never see because they’re on the other side of the world.”

Sass won the women’s 35-39 age group, finishing more than a minute ahead of her closest competitor in 1:05:59. The win marked Sass’ 10th ITU age-group world title across various disciplines of multisport.  

“There is just nothing like toeing the line with the best in the world and representing the USA,” Sass said. “While I’m out there racing, cheering on my fellow U.S. athletes and being cheered on by them in return — it’s just an incredible atmosphere. A true celebration of the sport.” 

Jensen-McGinnis, who competed as an elite athlete in the early 2000s, earned her first ITU world title as an amateur. She was the top women’s’ 50-54 finisher by more than a minute, clocking in at 1:10:19.

“I’m so happy I could cry. I think I won on emotion,” said Jensen, who overcame a torn meniscus and an avulsion fracture earlier this season. “It meant a lot to hold up the U.S. flag, and it’s great being in the host hotel and meeting everyone from all over the U.S. I’ve been doing this since 1985, and normal people would’ve gotten a new hobby by now! This is just like the icing on the cake.”

Adamson, one of the most senior competitors for Team USA, took top honors in the men’s 80-84 age group in 1:42:11. The world title was the second of Adamson’s career, as he was the standard-distance champion in Rotterdam, the Netherlands, last year.

“I’ve been doing this for 36 years. I’ve done every distance there is, every race there is. I guess it’s in the blood,” Adamson said. “I like the competition, and I like the people. I’ve made a lot of friends over the years. We’re all a big group, and we get together and talk a lot.”

Adamson was not the oldest American to be crowned world champion, however. Fong (Chatsworth, Calif.) reached the top of the podium at the ITU Sprint World Championships for the first time since 2012, winning the men’s 85-89 division with a time of 2:22:38. Winston Allen (St. Augustine, Fla.) was the runner-up to Fong, earning silver in 2:23:26.

Additional U.S. medalists included Barry Phelps (Santa Clara, Calif.), bronze medalist for men 50-54; Philip Friedman (Erie, Pa.) and Rick Kozlowski (San Diego, Calif.), who took second and third respectively in the men’s 65-69 division; and age-group silver medalists Sibyl Jacobson (F75-79, New York, N.Y.), Sheila Isaacs (F80-84, Shoreham, N.Y.) and Jack Welber (M80-84, Boulder, Colo.).

Thursday’s race was the first championship event of the ITU World Triathlon Grand Final, which runs through Sunday, Sept. 16. The Grand Final marks the culmination of the ITU World Triathlon Series for elite men and women, while also featuring world championship events for juniors, U23s, age-group athletes and elite paratriathletes. For the complete schedule of events in Gold Coast, visit goldcoast.triathlon.org.

Age-group racing continues Sunday with the Standard-Distance World Championships, which get underway at 6:15 a.m. local time (4:15 p.m. ET). More than 500 amateur athletes are representing Team USA this week in either the Sprint or Standard-Distance World Championships. 

2018 ITU Sprint Triathlon World Championships
750m swim, 20k bike, 5k run — Complete Results

United States Medalists

M25-29

1. Todd Buckingham (Big Rapids, Mich.), 59:03

F35-39
1. Kirsten Sass (McKenzie, Tenn.), 1:05:59

F50-54
1. Lauren Jensen McGinnis (Muskego, Wis.), 1:10:19

M50-54
3. Barry Phelps (Santa Clara, Calif.), 1:03:24

F65-69
1. Missy LeStrange (Visalia, Calif.), 1:18:15

M65-69
2. Philip Friedman (Erie, Pa.), 1:10:59
3. Rick Kozlowski (San Diego, Calif.), 1:11:24

F75-79
2. Sibyl Jacobson (New York, N.Y.),1:44:18

F80-84
2. Sheila Isaacs (Shoreham, N.Y.), 2:08:34

M80-84
1. Jon Adamson (Alpharetta, Ga.), 1:42:11
2. Jack Welber (Boulder, Colo.), 1:49:13

M85-89
1. Wayne Fong (Chatsworth, Calif.), 2:22:38
2. Winston Allen (St. Augustine, Fla.), 2:32:26

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 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).a