McElroy Wins Second Straight ITU World Cup in Miyazaki; Hemming Takes Silver

By USA Triathlon | Oct. 26, 2019, 12:37 p.m. (ET)

MIYAZAKI, Japan — Matt McElroy (Huntington Beach, Calif.) earned his second straight ITU Triathlon World Cup victory Saturday in Miyazaki, Japan, breaking the tape just a week after his winning performance in Tongyeong, South Korea. 

The back-to-back gold medals are the first of McElroy’s career on the ITU World Cup circuit. He was joined on the podium by U.S. teammate and training partner Eli Hemming (Kiowa, Colo.), who took silver in Miyazaki for the second consecutive year.

The course in the Japanese city featured an Olympic-distance 1,500-meter swim, 39.9-kilometer bike and 10-kilometer run. In the men’s race, Slovakia’s Richard Varga was first out of the water in 17 minutes, 16 seconds. William Huffman (Colleyville, Texas) and Hemming were 10 seconds back from Varga, while McElroy was about 20 seconds back at the tail end of the lead pack. 

McElroy dropped his bike chain heading out of transition, losing touch with the 12-man lead pack that included Hemming and Huffman. The leaders maintained about a 30-second gap for the entire bike course and into the second transition — but some of the fastest runners in the field, including McElroy and Belgium’s Jelle Geens, were in the chase pack and ready to make up ground.

Hemming, Canada’s Matthew Sharpe and Australia’s Aaron Royle got out to an early lead on the run, but by the halfway mark, McElroy surged past his teammate to move into the top spot.

McElroy covered the 10k course in 30:05, the fastest run split of the field by nearly 40 seconds. He broke the tape with a time of 1:47:13, earning his eighth career ITU World Cup medal and second victory. 

“I am absolutely emotional right now. Sticking to the process, believing in myself and just keeping such a positive mindset the last two weeks has been the key,” McElroy said. “I came out of the swim in the back of the front pack. My chain dropped, so I basically did it the hard way. I had to work really hard on the bike with Jelle Geens and some of the other athletes to close that gap, but we didn’t close it down, so it came down to the run.”

Hemming crossed the line 27 seconds after McElroy for silver, a repeat of his 2018 performance here in Miyazaki. Geens of Belgium rounded out the podium in 1:47:58.

“It’s very late in the season, but I do love this race,” Hemming said. “Two second places, you can never complain about that. You have to love a race if you’re doing that well at it, so I think I’ll have to come back again.”

McElroy and Hemming are training partners on the ORIGIN Performance squad coached by Ian O’Brien, the 2018 USA Triathlon National Coach of the Year.

“Obviously, my teammate Matt is on the form of his life right now, so I’m just so happy that me and him could go 1-2,” Hemming said. “Working together every day, it’s huge. I’m happy with second, but I’m even happier that he got first.”

Kirsten Kasper (North Andover, Mass.) was the sole U.S. competitor in the women’s race, taking 11th with a time of 2:01:39. Japan’s Ai Ueda took the win in 1:59:32, followed by Belgians Claire Michel (1:59:39) and Valerie Barthelemy (2:00:09) in the silver- and bronze-medal positions, respectively.

Kasper was third out of the water, right on the heels of Japan’s Yuko Takahashi and Portugal’s Helena Carvalho. She joined the lead pack on the bike and was in second place heading onto the run course behind Takahashi.

By the second lap, Ueda and Michel surged past the field. They were untouchable on the run as the only two women to dip under the 35-minute mark, as Ueda clocked a 34:35 and Michel a 34:46. Ueda, who was celebrating her birthday, ultimately took the win on home soil, with Michel just seven seconds behind her.

Kasper, who is on the comeback trail from multiple injuries this season, ran a 36:50 10k and crossed the line in 11th.

The ITU World Cup circuit makes its penultimate stop of the 2019 season Nov. 3 in Lima, Peru, followed by the final race of the year in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic, on Nov. 10.

Miyazaki ITU Triathlon World Cup
1,500m swim, 39.9k bike, 10k run

Elite Men — Complete Results

1. Matt McElroy (Huntington Beach, Calif.), 1:47:13
2. Eli Hemming (Kiowa, Colo.), 1:47:40
3. Jelle Geens (BEL), 1:47:58

U.S. Finishers
1. Matt McElroy (Huntington Beach, Calif.), 1:47:13
2. Eli Hemming (Kiowa, Colo.), 1:47:40
12. Collin Chartier (Fairfax, Va.), 1:48:42
21. William Huffman (Colleyville, Texas), 1:50:13
31. Darr Smith (Atlanta, Ga.), 1:52:21

Elite Women — Complete Results
1. Ai Ueda (JPN), 1:59:32
2. Claire Michel (BEL), 1:59:39
3. Valerie Barthelemy (BEL), 2:00:09

U.S. Finishers
11. Kirsten Kasper (North Andover, Mass.), 2:01:39

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).