COZUMEL, Mexico -- The U.S. junior team of Kyleigh Spearing, Graham Pimentel, Taylor Knibb and Austin Hindman raced their way to fourth place on Saturday morning at the ITU U23/Junior Mixed Relay World Championship.
Graham Pimentel, Austin Hindman, Kyleigh Spearing and Taylor Knibb finished fourth on Saturday in the relay. (USA Triathlon)
Each athlete completed a 300-meter swim, 5-kilometer bike and 1.6-kilometer run, leading the U.S. to finish in 1 hour, 6 minutes, 43 seconds, just 6 seconds off the podium. Spain pulled away in the final stages of the race to win gold in the event with a time of 1:06:29, with Great Britain earning silver in 1:06:33. Australia took the bronze in 1:06:37, pulling away from the U.S. team in the final straightaway on the run.
"I've done relays at CAMTRI events and nationals, and this is the most competitive relay run I've ever seen," said Pimentel (Naples, Fla.), who finished 18th in the individual event yesterday. "It's another level of racing for sure. It was a blast."
Spearing (Frankfort, Ill.) led off for the U.S., and she and Pimentel kept the team within striking distance for the final two legs, where the newly crowned Junior World Champions Knibb (Washington, D.C.) and Hindman (Wildwood, Mo.) would anchor the team.
"I actually love relays," Spearing said. "It's nice sharing the pressure with a team. I just wanted to try my best to set up my team the best I could. It's really great to be on a team with these guys. Triathlon is such an individual sport, and it's nice to finally be on a team."
Knibb quickly moved the team into sixth place by the end of her swim, and continued to push the pace on the bike and the run. By the time Knibb was running to the tag zone, she had a 10 second gap, which Hindman was able to maintain through the swim. He was caught by fast chasing athletes on the bike and started the run with four other men, including the eventual podium finishers. Hindman continued to run in third place until the final meters of the run, where he was passed by the Australian team before the finish.
Mixed team relay events are gaining popularity worldwide, with ITU World Champions named at the elite and U23/junior levels. USA Triathlon has hosted a mixed team relay event at its Youth & Junior National Championships since 2010 and for Collegiate Club National Championships competitors since 2012. ITU is campaigning to add it to the Olympic Games program in the future.
"It's fun to race for something bigger than yourself," Knibb said.
The U23/Junior Mixed Relay World Championship has only been contested once before, in Edmonton, Alberta, in 2014. There the U.S. finished seventh, while Great Britain took the win.
Later today the elite women will duke it out to see who will become the winner of the 2016 ITU World Triathlon Series at 4:30 p.m. CT. A complete schedule of events is available at Cozumel.Triathlon.org.
ITU U23/Junior Mixed Relay World Championship
4x 300m swim, 5k bike, 1.6k run
1. Spain, 1:06:29
2. Great Britain, 1:06:33
3. Australia, 1:06:37
4. USA (Kyleigh Spearing, Graham Pimentel, Taylor Knibb, Austin Hindman), 1:06:43
||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).