Eli Hemming Leads U.S. Men with 16th-Place Finish at ITU World Triathlon Grand Final

By USA Triathlon | Sept. 16, 2018, 7:20 a.m. (ET)

GOLD COAST, Australia — Eli Hemming (Kiowa, Colo.) had a strong showing at the ITU World Triathlon Grand Final on Sunday in Gold Coast, Australia, finishing 16th overall to lead the U.S. men’s contingent. It was Hemming’s second-best career finish in an ITU World Triathlon Series race to date, and his third time placing in the top-20. 

The ITU World Triathlon Series (WTS) is a season-long battle for the world championship crown, and the leader at the end of the series is named world champion. The Grand Final is the last race of the series, and is weighted more heavily in the rankings than regular-season WTS races. After representing the U.S. in the ITU Under-23 World Championships in 2015 in Chicago, 2016 in Cozumel, Mexico, and 2017 in Rotterdam, the Netherlands, Hemming competed Sunday in the senior-level Grand Final for the first time.

The course for Sunday’s race consisted of a 1,500-meter swim in the Coral Sea at Broadwater Tourist Park, a 38-kilometer bike along Gold Coast Highway and a 10-kilometer run finishing at Mitchell Park. 

Hemming was 26th out of the water, but came into transition with a big pack that formed a peloton on the bike. 

While some of the frontrunners from the swim went for an early breakaway, they were reeled back in before the halfway point of the 38k bike course. Only Norway’s Kristian Blummenfelt and Belgium’s Martin Van Riel had the legs to stay out front, in hopes of building a gap ahead of the run. Van Riel, however, suffered a chain drop in the final kilometer of the bike, losing some ground and leaving the Norwegian to take the lead out of the second transition. 

On the run, most of the pre-race favorites accelerated quickly — including world No. 1 Mario Mola of Spain, Henri Schoeman of Australia, Richard Murray of South Africa, and Vincent Luis and Pierre Le Corre of France. They eventually caught up to Blummenfelt, forming a group of six that would battle for the podium spots.

Just behind the lead runners, Hemming was battling it out with big names like two-time Olympic medalist Jonny Brownlee of Great Britain, 2016 world bronze medalist Fernando Alarza of Spain and 2017 world U23 silver medalist Dorian Coninx of France. 

In the final lap, it was Luis who surged ahead, breaking the tape with a time of 1 hour, 44 minutes, 34 seconds to become a back-to-back Grand Final champion. Mola grabbed the silver in 1:44:48., securing his third straight title in the overall ITU World Triathlon Series. Murray rounded out the podium, taking bronze in 1:55:56.

Hemming had a strong finish, outsprinting Canada’s Matthew Sharpe and Spain’s Vincente Hernandez down the chute. His 16th-place finish with a time of 1:46:38 marks his second-best career WTS result to date. 

“I’m very happy. It was a tough race, tough conditions. I was a little ways back on the first half of the swim, so I’m pretty happy with how I passed a lot of guys on the second half of the swim and got myself into that first pack,” Hemming said. “All in all, it’s just a race, but I’m very happy to be here. It’s a whole different thing being at the elite level versus the U23 or junior level.”

Also competing for the U.S. in Sunday’s race were Morgan Pearson (Boulder, Colo.), who finished 41st in his first Grand Final with a time of 1:50:44, and Matt McElroy (Huntington Beach, Calif.), who dropped out of the race.

Mola’s runner-up finish on the day helped the Spaniard secure his third consecutive world title. He was joined on the overall series podium by Luis, who took the series silver, and Australia’s Jacob Birtwhistle, who earned the bronze. 

To view the complete 2018 ITU World Triathlon Series rankings, visit wts.triathlon.org/rankings.

The four-day ITU World Triathlon Grand Final not only marked the culmination of the 2018 ITU World Triathlon Series, but also featured world championships for elite paratriathletes, U23, juniors and age-group athletes. Visit usatriathlon.org for recaps of U.S. performances at all races.

ITU World Triathlon Grand Final
1,500m swim, 38k bike, 10k run

Elite Men — Complete Results

1. Vincent Luis (FRA), 1:44:34
2. Mario Mola (ESP), 1:44:48
3. Richard Murray (RSA), 1:44:56

U.S. Finishers
16. Eli Hemming (Kiowa, Colo.), 1:46:38
41. Morgan Pearson (Boulder, Colo.), 1:50:44
DNF, Matt McElroy (Huntington Beach, Calif.)

2018 ITU World Triathlon Series — Final Rankings

1. Mario Mola (ESP), 6,081 points
2. Vincent Luis (FRA), 5,060
3. Jacob Birtwhistle (AUS), 4,884
4. Richard Murray (RSA), 4,792
5. Kristian Blummenfelt (NOR), 3,936

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).