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TOKYO, Jpn—Canadian triathletes Jessica Tuomela and her guide Marianne Hogan battled through the blistering Tokyo heat to a fifth-place finish in the women’s visually-impaired triathlon race on Saturday at the Paralympic Games.

Tuomela (Sault-Ste. Marie, Ont.) and Hogan (Montreal) completed the 750-metre swim, 20-kilometre bike and five-kilometre run course that ended alongside Tokyo’s Odaiba Beach with a time of 1:12:53.

“We worked really hard and I think we executed as well as we could,” said the 38-year-old Tuomela. “The swim was awesome, and the bike was incredible. The run wasn’t quite what I wanted it to be, but this is the Paralypmic Games, and it is nothing to shake a stick at. There is room for improvement, and I think that is what is really cool about triathlon – there is always ways to get better.”

The Canucks came out of the single 750-metre lap swim in Odaiba Bay just six seconds behind Spain’s Susana Rodriguez and her guide, Sara Loehr.

The Canucks held on to the silver medal position through the four, five-kilometre laps on the flat and technical bike course around Ariake Tennis Park that crossed Fujimi Bridge before doubling back towards Odaiba Bay.

However, the Spaniards took a one-minute lead over Tuomela and Hogan out of T2, and onto the five-kilometre run course, before the Canadians began to fall out out of medal contention in the second of the four-lap run.

Running away with the gold medal in a time of 1:07:15, Spain’s Rodriguez and Loehr left the rest of the world to battle for the silver and bronze medal.

Hot on the Canadians heels throughout the bike course, the Italian team of Anna Barbaro and her guide Charlotte Bonin took advantage of a stumble by Canada’s Tuomela near the end of her first 1.25-kilometre lap to take over second place where they finished, earning the silver medal with a time of 1:11:11.

The French team of Annouck Curzillat and her guide Celine Bousrez also passed the Canadian shortly after at the midway point of the run and went on to snag the final spot on the podium with a time of 1:11:45. 

It has been a rollercoaster journey to the Paralympic startline in Tokyo for Tuomela and the 31-year-old Hogan. A three-time Paralympic swimmer and silver-medallist at the 2000 Games, Tuomela was hungry for a podium finish in triathlon knowing it was within reach following medal-winning performances in their five races together since uniting in 2019.

Their sizzling stretch included reaching the World Para-Triathlon Series podium before winning their first World Cup together at the Tokyo test event in 2019. They backed that breakthrough performance up two weeks later with a bronze medal at the World Championships.

“It was an honour and a privilege to guide Jess through this Paralympic cycle, and especially here at the Paralympic Games,” said Hogan. “I’m really proud of the effort she put forward today. I think she can be really proud of everything she has done to make it to these Games and finish in fifth place.”

The Para-Triathlon competitions continue on Sunday when Canada’s Stefan Daniel (Calgary) will be on a mission for gold while Kamylle Frenette (Dieppe, N.B.) will also look to be in the medal mix in the men’s and women’s PTS5 competitions.

Complete Paralympic Women’s Visually Impaired Results:

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Chris Dornan

Triathlon Canada

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