ABU DHABI, UAE — U.S. Elite Triathlon National Team member Morgan Pearson (New Vernon, N.J.) earned silver on Saturday, Nov. 26 at the 2022 World Triathlon Championship Finals Abu Dhabi, while his U.S. teammate Matt McElroy (Huntington Beach, Calif.) placed 10th.
Pearson's medal is the first for a U.S. man at a triathlon world championship event since Mike Pigg earned bronze at the ITU Triathlon World Championship in 1991 in Gold Coast, Australia.
The historic medal marked Pearson's return to World Triathlon Championship Series (WTCS) racing after an absence due to injury this season. Earlier this month, he raced the World Triathlon Cup Vina del Mar, his first race since WTCS Abu Dhabi in November of 2021.
"This is a nice way to come back to this stage. It's been a long year," Pearson said. "I took a step back after Chile and was like, 'let's just focus on the process of getting through the race.'"
Saturday's World Triathlon Championship Finals capped the long WTCS season that began last fall, with athletes racing for world titles, which are determined by athletes' best four results in the WTCS season and the results of the race in Abu Dhabi.
While not in contention for the world title since he came to Abu Dhabi with only one WTCS race result this season, Pearson quickly established himself as a contender for the day's podium in Abu Dhabi. He finished the 1500-meter swim, 40-kilometer bike and 10k run in a time of 1 hour, 44 minutes, 25 seconds.
Riding in the chase pack on the bike, Pearson led the group's charge to cut into the front pack's lead. Together, the group whittled down that gap to 36 seconds heading into the second transition. Pearson then made his move on the run, clocking the day's fastest 10k — 29:15 — to secure the silver.
"We got to the run and it was really easy on the first lap," said Pearson, a Tokyo 2020 Olympian who ran the U.S. team to silver in the Mixed Relay. "In the back of my head I was thinking of something I read this week that was like, 'you can settle for silver or go for gold' I decided to take a stab for gold. It didn't work out, but if you don't go for it you're never going to get it."
Pearson has now medaled in three WTCS events — Yokohama and Leeds in 2021 were the first two — and is one of three men in U.S. history to win a medal in a WTCS race (Jarrod Shoemaker and McElroy).
McElroy on Saturday clocked the day's seventh-fastest run to score a top-10 finish and end the 2022 campaign with momentum following three podium finishes on the World Triathlon Cup circuit.
Fellow U.S. Elite Triathlon National Team member Seth Rider (Germantown, Tenn.) placed 16th in 1:46:09 and Chase McQueen (Columbus, Ind.) took 28th in 1:46:56. Kevin McDowell (Geneva, Ill.) finished 31st.
2022 World Triathlon Championship Finals Abu Dhabi
1500m swim, 40k bike, 10k run | Full results
1. Leo Bergere (FRA) 1:44:14
2. Morgan Pearson (New Vernon, N.J.) 1:44:25
3. Jelle Geens (BEL) 1:44:34
10. Matt McElroy (Huntington Beach, Calif.) 1:45:26
16. Seth Rider (Germantown, Tenn.) 1:46:09
28. Chase McQueen (Columbus, Ind.) 1:46:56
31. Kevin McDowell (Geneva, Ill.) 1:47:25
2022 World Triathlon Championship Series Rankings
1. Leo Bergere (FRA) 4,741 points
2. Alex Yee (GBR) 4,721