Team USA Takes 10 Age Group Triathlon World Titles in Beijing
Landmark Day Closes ITU World Championships
September 11, 2011 (Beijing, China) – Team USA closed out its stay in Beijing in style Sunday by claiming its most world titles since 2005 at the 2011 ITU Age Group World Championships. In all, U.S. athletes earned 10 championships and 21 medals on the final day of competition.
Sunday's 10 gold medals mark the highest total at a single age group triathlon world championship event for Team USA since winning 15 titles in Honolulu, Hawaii, in 2005. In Beijing, U.S. age-groupers combined to capture 21 total world titles and 50 medals in this week's aquathlon, sprint and age group triathlon events.
Striking gold in Sunday's Olympic-distance event for the U.S. were:
Erika Erickson (25-29, Berkeley, Calif.)
Spencer Popeson (25-29, Linwood, N.J.)
Mark Harms (35-39, Madison, Wis.)
Kyle Welch (50-54, Sunnyvale, Calif.)
Susan Griffin-Kaklikian (55-59, Castle Rock, Colo.)
Douglas Hill (55-59, Tacoma, Wash.)
Elizabeth Brackett (70-74, Chicago, Ill.)
Dave Robinette (70-74, Centennial, Colo.)
John Cook (75-59, Stamford, Conn.)
Winston Allen (80-84, Saint Augustine, Fla.)
Brackett, who earned her third straight world title, and Griffin-Kaklikan were repeat winners from Budapest a year ago. Griffin-Kaklikan and Robinette were double gold recipients this week after also winning their age groups at Wednesday's Aquathlon Worlds.
With Saturday's soggy weather a thing of the past, today's competitors enjoyed near ideal racing conditions, which allowed them to enjoying the challenging bike course. "I thought it was a really exciting course," said Welch, who claimed his first world title. "It suited a strong cyclist who likes hard climbs and rollers."
"The bike is super-challenging, which I like," said Erickson, who took a spill on the first bike turn but recovered to earn gold in her first trip to Worlds. "I hunted down the two New Zealand girls in front of me and just wanted to give as much fight as I had on the run, and it turned out well."
Also popular with Team USA was the spectator-friendly run course, which featured multiple laps through the seating area. "This stadium is amazing. Having the multiple loops makes you feel like a pro because your family gets to see you so many times," said Sandi Garcia, who was 14th in the women's 45-49 age group.
Hill claimed his family's second gold medal in as many days Sunday after his daughter, Alycia, won the women's 20-24 sprint title Saturday. "You can't beat double gold," Douglas Hill said. "Mom's going to be happy; she's going to wish she came now."
For many athletes the draw of this event is the chance to test themselves against the best age-groupers from around the world. "I believe this is the most competitive amateur short-course race in the world, so that's why I come - for the competition," said Harms, who is a three-time medalist. "Whether you're in the hunt for a medal or not, it's still just as much fun to represent Team USA."
Welch, a fellow first-time world champion, agrees. "I just love coming and representing Team USA. I get emotional about it because I love the country. To win here is just extra special, especially on 9/11. It means a lot."
Team USA is comprised of the nation's top amateur triathletes who represent the U.S. at each ITU championship event.
2011 ITU Age Group World Championships
1,500m swim, 40k bike, 10k run
1. Erika Erickson (Berkeley, Calif.), 2:15:51
1. Spencer Popeson (Linwood, N.J.), 2:01:31
2. Kelly Ciravolo (Shavertown, Pa.), 2:20:38
2. Krista Hensel (Houston, Texas), 2:20:52
1. Mark Harms (Madison, Wis.), 2:01:59
3. John Wiberg (Chicago, Ill.), 2:06:50
2. Donna Smyers (Adamant, Vt.), 2:27:23
1. Kyle Welch (Sunnyvale, Calif.), 2:10:26
1. Susan Griffin-Kaklikian (Castle Rock, Colo.), 2:38:02
1. Douglas Hill (Tacoma, Wash.), 2:21:34
2. Sue Stark (Sugar Grove, N.C.), 3:09:25
2. David McNeely (Glen Arm, Md.), 2:45:30
3. Robert Plant (Woodside, Calif.), 2:45:30
1. Elizabeth Brackett (Chicago, Ill.), 3:20:46
2. Peggy McDowell-Cramer (Santa Monica, Calif.), 3:36:07
3. Sharon Roggenbuck (Hillsborough, N.C.), 3:47:45
1. Dave Robinette (Centennial, Colo.), 2:53:57
2. William Marshall (Santa Rosa, Calif.), 2:54:47
1. John Cook (Stamford, Conn.), 3:50:13
2. Dieter Heycke (Honolulu, Hawaii), 3:56:00
1. Winston Allen (Saint Augustine, Fla.), 4:10:04