COZUMEL, Mexico -- World championships action began Wednesday at the 2016 ITU World Triathlon Grand Final and World Championships with U.S. multisport athletes earning 10 world titles and 19 total medals for the 2016 ITU Aquathlon World Championships.
Arby Kitzman was among 10 gold medalists for the U.S. at Aquathlon Worlds in Cozumel. (USA Triathlon)
Competing on a 2.5-kilometer run, 1-kilometer swim, 2.5-kilometer run course, gold medals were awarded to:
- Jennifer Huffman (40-44, Oceanside, Calif.)
- Andrew Farrell (45-49, Raleigh, N.C.)
- Daniel Wirls (55-59, Santa Cruz, Calif.)
- Susan Griffin-Kaklikian (60-64, Castle Rock, Colo.)
- Colleen Burns (65-69, McIntosh, N.M.)
- Sean Kelly (65-69 Mountain View, Calif.)
- Susan Thompson (70-74, Sugarland, Texas)
- June Black (75-79, Austin, Texas)
- Arby Kitzman (75-79, Morro Bay, Calif.)
- Amy Dixon (PT5, Greenwich, Conn.)
USA Triathlon's amateur Team USA also picked up three silver medals through the efforts of Gary Rodefeld (60-64, Richmond, Ind.), Richard Smith (70-74, Richmond, Ind.) and Jody Kelly (75-79, Austin, Texas), while Team USA members Sharon V Smith (55-59, Austin, Texas), Philip Friedman (60-64, Erie, Pa.), Anne Vivani (65-69, Arlington, Va.), Roger Gartman (65-69, Edmond, Okla.) and Don Nelson (75-79. Tulsa, Okla.) won bronze.
In the elite race, which opened the day's activities, Tommy Zaferes (Santa Cruz, Calif.) won the bronze medal after finishing off the podium in fourth the past two years. Zaferes posted a time of 29 minutes, 18 seconds for the bronze, behind winner and two-time Olympic champion Alistair Brownlee of Great Britain and four-time Aquathlon Worlds champion Richard Varga of Slovakia. Brownlee finished in 28:58, with Varga finishing 5 seconds back in 29:03. Zaferes was sixth heading into the swim and made up time in the water to better his finish position from 2014 and 2015.
"From lifeguarding, that was what we used to do - run, swim, run - so that was kind of a fun experience," Zaferes said. "This has been the highest quality field in aquathlon in a very long time, with Alistair Brownlee racing and Richard Varga, so finishing on the podium behind those two guys is pretty amazing."
The 19 total medals won by Team USA on day one of competition in Cozumel is just shy of the 26 medals won when the event was held last year in Chicago. The format in this year's Aquathlon Worlds split the run, adding an extra dynamic with a swim bookended by two runs rather than the traditional swim-run format typically contested at the world championships.
"I love this format," said Jenny deHart (Thorndike, Maine), who finished fourth the women's 30-34 age group after winning a bronze medal last year. "It's my favorite, with the speed, the swim in the middle, no wetsuit, an ocean swim. It's really a true balance of the two disciplines. There were a lot of fast people who came in in front of me in my age group but I'm really happy with my performance. I gave it everything I had."
Approximately 150 Americans competed on Wednesday, and while many returning Team USA members found themselves in the familiar position of finishing on the podium, new members of Team USA were proud of the opportunity to compete in the Red, White and Blue.
"It was a goal that I had set for myself four seasons ago," said Nathanial Friedman (Austin, Texas), who competed in his first world championship event on Wednesday, finishing 22nd in the men's 30-34 age group. He will also compete in the Standard Triathlon World Championships on Sunday. "It's an honor to represent Team USA at any international event, and I worked hard to get here. I had a good solid race on the opening day, a good shake out from the travel, so I'm ready to get myself going for Sunday."
Julie Kramer (25-29, Oklahoma City, Okla.) welcomed a new baby to her family seven weeks ago and was among the Team USA finishers, crossing the finish line with her sister Christie Kramer (16-19, San Antonio, Texas). The duo didn't win any medals, but that wasn't the ultimate goal for this year's competition.
"This sort of race, normally I would sprint the whole thing," J. Kramer said. "This year I was like, I'm just going to finish and go as slow as I need to, because I just wanted the experience. It was awesome, and I'm so glad we were able to do it together."
Races continue in Cozumel tomorrow as Team USA takes to the race course for the ITU Sprint Triathlon World Championships. The Under-23 Men's World Championships will also be contested later in the day. More details on the 2016 ITU World Triathlon Grand Final Cozumel are available at Cozumel.Triathlon.org.
2016 ITU Aquathlon World Championships
2.5k run, 1k swim, 2.5k run
United States Medalists
3. Tommy Zaferes (Santa Cruz, Calif.), 29:18
Paratriathlon - PT5
1. Amy Dixon (Greenwich, Conn.), 51:32
1. Jennifer Huffman (Oceanside, Calif.), 38:58
1. Andrew Farrell (Raleigh, N.C.), 36:06
3. Sharon V Smith (Austin, Texas), 42:09
1. Daniel Wirls (Santa Cruz, Calif.), 37:25
1. Susan Griffin-Kaklikian (Castle Rock, Colo.), 46:28
2. Gary Rodefeld (Richmond, Ind.), 39:47
3. Philip Friedman (Erie, Pa.), 40:53
1. Colleen Burns (McIntosh, N.M.), 45:18
3. Anne Vivani (Arlington, Va.), 58:56
1. Sean Kelly (Mountain View, Calif.), 45:13
3. Roger Gartman (Edmond, Okla.), 48:05
1. Susan Thompson (Sugarland, Texas), 56:32
2. Richard Smith (Richmond, Ind.), 49:26
1. June Black (Austin, Texas), 1:16:37
2. Jody Kelly (Austin, Texas), 1:48:03
1. Arby Kitzman (Morro Bay, Calif.), 58:25
3. Don Nelson (Tulsa, Okla.), 1:14:31
||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 races and connects with nearly 500,000 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).