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BIRMINGHAM, UK Jessica Tuomela and Emma Skaug etched their names in the history books as the first Canadians to podium in paratriathlon at the Commonwealth Games, winning the bronze on Sunday in Birmingham, UK.

“I don’t actually have words. It’s two sports later and six major Games later, and to be able to have claim to that is pretty incredible,” said Tuomela.

The former Paralympic silver medallist in swimming, who began competing in triathlons nine years after calling it a career in the water, had the performance of her life in the three-sport discipline. Tuomela, from Sault Ste. Marie, Ont. and her new Victoria-based guide, Emma Skaug, rocketed to a third-place time of 1:15:12.

With the 22-year-old Skaug, a former national junior and U23 athlete leading the way, the three-time Paralympic swimmer set the tone for the race with a solid 750-metre swim in Powell’s Pool Lake.

“We executed all three disciplines the way we wanted to. The goal was to go out, be steady and get in a rhythm and stay there,” said Tuomela who is three days removed from her 39th birthday.

“We wanted to be in a nice position together in the water. As a completely blind athlete that can be really challenging. I can only use the side of my body to figure out where Emma is and that takes away from the forward momentum. The course gave us a bunch of left turns which we had to adjust for yesterday because Emma was on the inside, but we did really well there,” added Tuomela.

The Canadian duo, who were silver medallists in their first major race together at the World Paratriathlon Series season-opener in Yokohama, charged hard on the 20-kilometre tricky bike course through the Birmingham streets that had a mix of hills, big turns, sharp turns and straight-aways that demanded multiple speed changes.

“The bike was incredible,” said Tuomela. “It so fun with the hills, sharp turns, mini climbs. Everything was thrown together on this course, and we were flying.”

As if the course wasn’t challenging enough. The boisterous English crowd lining the streets to catch a glimpse of the world’s best paratriathletes put a premium on communication tactics.

“The crowd was absolutely amazing. It was just so good. Hearing everything around us was just so exhilarating,” said Skaug. “It was funny because every straightaway when I didn’t need to say much, it was quiet, but when we were cornering, it was so loud, and we just had to find ways throughout to stay in touch. The course itself was incredible but the spectators just made this so fun.”

Skaug led Tuomela off the tandem bike in second spot behind England’s Katie Crowhurst and her partner, Jessica Fullagar.

The Canadians faced their toughest test last while facing a punishing five-kilometre run course that winds through Sutton Park.

“The run was a beast,” said Tuomela. “The run is always my challenge and this course had like 1.5 kilometres of climbing, but I wasn’t afraid of it today. I was excited to embrace that challenge and I think that was another step forward in me becoming a better athlete.”

Tuomela’s experience played a big factor on Sunday, needing to pace herself through the run to stay in podium contention while managing a health issue that has plagued her the last six months. The Canadians held onto second place for most of the run but needed to slow things down going up a hill during the final lap.

“My health challenges reared its head a bit in the run. I just had to take time to reset, stay calm in my brain and remind myself that we are running our own race today,” said Tuomela. “We were attacking on the hill where I could coming down and were moving really good. We worked with what we had today and I’m really proud of that.”

When the dust finally settled at the finish line, it was England’s Crowhurst and Fullagar winning with a time of 1:10:32. Northern Ireland’s Chloe Maccombe and her guide, Catherine Sands, took second place with a time of 1:14:39.

“I am really happy with how much of a unit we were today. We stayed together on the swim, stayed strong on the bike taking good lines, keeping the pedals smooth and powering where we needed to, working through all of the corners and taking the corners a little harder each lap. And on the run, we ever disengaged,” said Skaug. “Watching this lady go through the tough patches, taking each step better than the last, never disengaging or mentally turning off was really incredibly inspiring.”

Canada now has five triathlon medals in the history of the Commonwealth Games. In addition to Tuomela and Skaug’s triumph on Sunday, Simon Whitfield and Carol Montgomery both won gold at the 2002 Games in Manchester, England. Kirsten Sweetland won the silver medal at the 2014 Games in Glasgow, Scotland, and Joanna Brown claimed bronze in Gold Coast, Australia four years ago.

Canada’s Mixed Relay Team Finishes Sixth

Canada’s mixed relay team battled to sixth place to cap off the series of triathlon events at the 2022 Commonwealth Games.

Tyler Mislawchuk led a new-look squad of Canucks to the start line in the elite race. The Oak Bluff, Man. resident was joined by Emy Legault (Ile Perrot, Que.), Charles Paquet (Port-Cartier, Que.) and Dominika Jamnicky (Guelph, Ont.). The Canadian four-pack combined for a time of 1:20:01.

“We all walk away from here hungry and motivated. We know we have more in us. This is just the beginning of this Olympic cycle and I think this team really has the potential do well in the future so this isn’t the end of us,” said Jamnicky, who took on the third leg.

Mislawchuk, a two-time Olympian was first up for the Canucks, but was not able to find his top gear, handing off to Emy Legault in seventh spot.

“I didn’t race well so that was disappointing. I gave it my best which is even worse. When you race individually poorly it is one thing, but this stings a lot more because I feel I let the team down. This isn’t me so I have no doubt this team will have some big races in the future ahead of us,” said Mislawchuk.

Emy Legault took on many of the world’s best in the second leg, including Flora Duffy. Legault was able to move up one spot into sixth – a position Charles Paquet and Dominika Jamnicky were able to hold over the final two legs.

The mixed relay race format debuted at the 2020 Olympic Summer Games in Tokyo. An action-packed, spectator-friendly event consists of teams of two women and two men. Each athlete completes a 300m swim, 6.6km bike and a 1.5km run before tagging off to their teammate to take on the next leg.

England won the event on Sunday with a time of 1:16:40. Wales was second at 1:17:26, while Australia celebrated the bronze medal with a time of 1:17:29.

ABOUT TEAM CANADA 2022

The 2022 Commonwealth Games will be host to 72 participating nations and territories taking part in the Games. The Commonwealth Games are a valuable opportunity as a steppingstone and development opportunity for Canadian athletes, coaches, and managers working towards Olympic and Paralympic success. Canada’s performance projection in 2022 is a top 3 ranking, in total medals, amongst all nations and territories competing. Commonwealth athletes won 80%+ of Canada’s medals at the 2020 Olympic Games

Team Canada’s dedicated mission team will provide an optimal environment by celebrating equality, diversity, and non-discrimination. This is in support of our goals needed to enable a best ever performance by Canadian athletes at the 2022 Commonwealth Games.

ABOUT TRIATHLON CANADA
Triathlon Canada is the governing body of the sport in the country. Triathlon Canada’s more than 22,000 members include athletes, coaches and officials from the grassroots to elite levels. With the support of its valued corporate partners – 94 FORWARD, 2XU Canada, Training Peaks, Subaru Canada– along with the City of Victoria, Government of Canada, Canadian Olympic Committee, Canadian Paralympic Committee, and Own the Podium, Triathlon Canada develops Olympic, Paralympic and World Champions in all race disciplines. For more information on Triathlon Canada, please visit us at www.triathloncanada.com

ABOUT COMMONWEALTH SPORT CANADA

Commonwealth Sport Canada (CSC) is the franchise holder for the Commonwealth Games and the Commonwealth sport movement in Canada. CSC is an active, contributing member of the Canadian sport community and supports Canada’s athletes to achieve excellence at Olympic, Paralympic Games, and world championships. The mission of CSC is to enrich the lives of youth across the Commonwealth and host the Commonwealth Games. CSC is responsible for all aspects of Canada’s participation in the XXII Commonwealth Games and will be sending a team of almost 400 of Canada’s best athletes and coaches to compete for Canada. The upcoming Games will occur in Birmingham, England from July 28 through to August 8, 2022. For additional information go to: www.commonwealthsport.ca.

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For More Information on Triathlon Canada:

Chris Dornan                                                                     

Triathlon Canada                                                                                              

E-mail: hpprchris@shaw.ca

403-620-8731

For more information, please contact:

Aerin England

Team Canada 2022 Media Attaché – Triathlon

Email: Aerin@commonwelathsport.ca

905 630 6091