The mathematics of the Canadian men’s triathlon situation may have been baffling to everyone except Brent McMahon.
The 31-year-old athlete from Victoria upped the total of Canadian Olympic entries into the men’s race at the London Games to a maximum three at Madrid Sunday.
How he did it was plain to him, if not others.
He didn’t win the race. The count of teammates sweating beside McMahon to help him in a domestique role was precisely zero. And the position he had to finish in Madrid’s World Championship Series race was undefined.
But McMahon had calculated in advance that he just had to finish ahead of Joao Pereira of Portugal, and he’d win an extra Olympic birth for Canada in the men’s Olympic triathlon race.
“At the end of the day, I needed to be one spot ahead of him – that was the mathematics,” said McMahon.
“The plan was to do what I do: run well off a hard bike (leg). I didn’t run as fast as I wanted to, but I ran well enough and got the job done to secure the third spot for Canada.”
He held off Pereira’s 10-km run to place 24th in 1 hour 55 minutes 39 seconds. Pereira pushed hard on the run, before dropping back to place 28th ever all at 1:56:05.
Britain’s Jonathan Brownlee was the victor in 1:51.49.
Two-time Olympic medalist, Simon Whitfield of Victoria, along with Kyle Jones, of Oakville,Ont., secured two places for Canada, based on performance over the last two years.
Sunday, it was a matter of McMahon doing it alone. He summoned up the frustrations of sitting 18 months on the sidelines with a career-threatening knee injury.
“It was daunting after a year and a half off to make up the points I needed to qualify in such a short time, but I had a huge support team that helped me build a plan and we got it done,” he said crediting the boosting of coach Lance Watson, his family and girlfriend.
“I had an exact plan coming off the injury... I knew what had to be done and I executed it,” said McMahon. “I have been studying the mathematics of this thing for 18 months. Everyone has been talking about it, I knew today I needed to beat one guy and I did. It looks like I have secured three spots for Canada.
The personal victory for McMahon ends a difficult, round-the-world, chase for 18 months to win Olympic points.
The 2004 Olympian added to his first World Cup win with a bronze medal at the Pan American Games, three bronze medals in Continental Cup races to go along with consistently placing well in World Championship Series races in 2011.
Switzerland’s Nicola Spirig won the women’s race in 2:06:35. Edmonton’s Chantell Widney finished 41st (2:13:02), while Winnipeg’s Sarah-Anne Brault was 43rd (2:13:36). Vancouver’s Lauren Campbell did not finish the race.
Edmonton’s Paula Findlay’s run of five World Championship Series victories, along with Montreal’s Kathy Tremblay’s eighth-place World Championship series finish at the season-opener in Sydney and a World Cup win let Canada secure two women’s spots at the 2012 Olympics. Triathlon Canada will be meeting later this week to discuss a line-up of athletes to nominate for the 2012 Games.
Roseline Filion of Laval, Que., and Meaghan Benfeito of Montreal earned two Olympic nominations on women’s 10-metre tower and François Imbeau-Dulac of St-Lazare, Que., grabbed a spot on men’s three-metre at Olympic trials in diving im Montreal.
Filion posted the platform victory earning 724.85 points with Carol-Ann Ware of Otterburn Park, Que., second at 716.70 and Benfeito, ranked fourth in the world, third at 708.70.
“The margin of error is very small and that’s why I’m so happy with my performance. I was consistent but consistent at a higher level with stronger scores,” said Filion.
Ware held the preliminary lead ahead of Filion while Benfeito was fourth – and Benfeito needed to play catch-up to assure her Olympic nomination. She responded with the top score in the final. Added to her accumulated international points it was enough to keep Ware from second place in the Olympic rankings.
Filion and Benfeito had secured a nomination on 10-metre synchro.