The U.S. ITU U23 and Junior Mixed Relay World Championships squad, from left: Alec Wilimovsky, Tamara Gorman, Erika Ackerlund and Fielding Fischer.
GOLD COAST, Australia — Fielding Fischer and Paige Horner were the top U.S. finishers at the ITU Triathlon Junior World Championships, held Saturday at Broadwater Parklands in Gold Coast, Australia. On Sunday, the U.S. mixed relay team of Erika Ackerlund, Alec Wilimovsky, Tamara Gorman and Fischer finished sixth at the ITU U23 and Junior Mixed Relay World Championships. Both events were held as part of the four-day ITU World Triathlon Grand Final, which closed Sunday in the Australian city.
The Junior World Championships course featured a 750-meter swim in the Coral Sea at Broadwater Tourist Park, a 19-kilometer draft-legal bike along Gold Coast Highway and a 5-kilometer run finishing at Mitchell Park.
In his first Junior Worlds appearance, Fischer (Chevy Chase, Md.) finished 14th in the men’s race. He had a strong swim, exiting the water in third behind Dylan McCullough of New Zealand and Paul Georgenthum of France. He joined with a lead group of 13 on the bike, staying in touch with the pack even after briefly going down on his bike and having to catch back up. Fischer then recorded a 16:38 5k, which brought him across the line 17th in a total time of 54 minutes, 11 seconds.
“This was incredible — the music coming through the transition area and everything was pretty awesome,” Fischer said. “It’s definitely pretty high intensity, but the team did a really good job of letting us know to just keep calm.”
Taking the win for the junior men was Hungary’s Csongor Lehmann in 52:49. He was followed closely by Georgenthum, who grabbed silver in 53:12, and Germany’s Philipp Wiewald, who took bronze in 53:14. Also racing for the U.S. men were Davis Bove (Franklin, Tenn.), who finished 45th in 57:16, and Luis Ortiz (Orlando, Fla.), 49th in 57:57.
In the junior women’s race, Horner (Grimes, Iowa), Audrey Ernst (South Elgin, Ill.) and Gillian Cridge (Indianapolis, Ind.) were the U.S. representatives. All three athletes found themselves in the chase pack on the bike, but were less than 30 seconds back from the leaders when they hit the second transition.
Horner had the fastest run for the Americans, dropping an 18:47 5k to cross the line 17th in 1:00:41. That finish is 17 spots improved from Horner’s first Junior Worlds appearance last year in Rotterdam, the Netherlands.
Mexico’s Cecilia Sayuri Ramirez Alavez was the champion with a time of 59:11, followed by two British athletes, Erin Wallace and Kate Waugh. Wallace took the silver in 59:23, and Waugh rounded out the podium in 59:34.
Ernst ended the day in 24th with a time of 1:01:26, and Cridge crossed the line in 1:01:54 to finish 29th.
“It’s a great experience being able to race with people from all over the world, the best of the best,” Horner said. “It’s an honor racing Audrey and Gillian, and it was amazing being able to come out as the top U.S. woman. They’re so good, so it was unexpected.”
Sunday’s U23/Junior Mixed Relay World Championships showcased young talent in the fast-paced mixed relay format, which will debut as a medal event at the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games. In the mixed relay format, each athlete completed a 250m swim, 7k bike and 1.5k run before passing off to the next teammate.
The race provided the opportunity for U23 and junior athletes to compete together on the same team. Ackerlund (Missoula, Mont.), Wilimovsky (Malibu, Calif.) and Gorman (Rapid City, S.D.) all competed in the ITU Under-23 World Championships earlier this week, with Fischer the sole junior on the U.S. squad.
Ackerlund (Missoula, Mont.), who placed fifth at U23 Worlds on Friday, started things off for Team USA. By the time she tagged off to Wilimovsky, she was in eighth place but less than 15 seconds back from frontrunner Sandra Dodet of France. Wilimovsky held onto a top-10 spot during leg two, and Gorman worked the team back up to sixth. Fielding served as the anchor leg, bringing the team home in a total combined time of 1:22:29. France was crowned world champion in 1:20:27, Germany earned silver (1:20:48) and Great Britain took bronze (1:21:25). New Zealand came across the line second in a photo finish with France, but the team was later disqualified.
“Being with other U.S. athletes and being a team was a really great experience,” Fischer said. “I was really happy that I was on the relay today. The (coaches) had to wait until last night just to choose who would be on the relay today, so I was pretty excited last night. It’s an exciting weekend in general.”
The ITU World Triathlon Grand Final marked the culmination of the 2018 ITU World Triathlon Series by crowning the men’s and women’s elite world champions, while also featuring world championship events for elite paratriathletes, U23s, juniors and age-group athletes. Visit usatriathlon.org for recaps of all races.
ITU Junior World Championships
750m swim, 19k bike, 5k run
Junior Men — Complete Results
1. Csongor Lehmann (HUN), 52:49
2. Paul Georgenthum (FRA), 53:12
3. Philipp Wiewald (GER), 53:14
14. Fielding Fischer (Chevy Chase, Md.), 54:11
45. Davis Bove (Franklin, Tenn.), 57:16
49. Luis Ortiz (Orlando, Fla.), 57:57
Junior Women — Complete Results
1. Cecilia Sayuri Ramirez Alavez (MEX), 59:11
2. Erin Wallace (GBR) 59:23
3. Kate Waugh (GBR), 59:34
17. Paige Horner (Grimes, Iowa), 1:00:41
24. Audrey Ernst (South Elgin, Ill.), 1:01:26
29. Gillian Cridge (Indianapolis, Ind.), 1:01:54
ITU U23 and Junior Mixed Relay World Championships
4x 250m swim, 7k bike and 1.5k run — Complete Results
1. France, 1:20:27
2. Germany, 1:20:48
3. Great Britain, 1:21:25
4. Portugal, 1:21:28
5. Australia, 1:21:31
6. United States (Erika Ackerlund, Alec Wilimovsky, Tamara Gorman, Fielding Fischer), 1:22:29
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).