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.
On men’s three-metre Imbeau-Dulac was first with 922.95 points to beat out 2008 Olympic team member Reuben Ross of Regina second at 902.70. Ross already had a nomination locked up on men’s three-metre synchro with Alexandre Despatie of Laval, Que. Despatie had also clinched the first qualifying spot on individual three-metre.
On Saturday, Émilie Heymans of St-Lambert, Que., and Riley McCormick of Victoria each earned an Olympic nomination in the women’s three-metre and men’s 10-metre respectively on Saturday at the Games trials in diving.
On women’s three-metre, Heymans tabulated 685.35 points for the preliminaries and final for the victory. ‘’My goal was to duplicate what I had been doing in training. I knew I had put in the work to do well at this event. I think my experience paid off today. The other divers had more trouble with that Olympic spot on the line,’’ Heymans said.
Jennifer Abel of Laval, Que., the world championship bronze medallist, had already locked up the first springboard spot.
Heymans now has two events for London. She will also dive with Abel on three-metre synchro. The pair won silver at the worlds last year the FINA World Cup this past February.
On men’s tower, McCormick scored four perfect 10’s on his reverse dive in the fifth round to win the competition and earned the Olympic spot with 979.80 points. Eric Sehn of Edmonton was second at 863.65 . Diving Canada will find out in June if a second spot on men’s tower will become available. If so, Sehn would get the spot.
Canada qualified in seven of eight Olympic events in diving this year.
Canada brings home three medals - silvers in the women's eight and men's pair, and bronze in the men's eight - from the Samsung World Rowing Cup in Lucerne, Switzerland Sunday.
As promised, the women's eight race was competitive to the end, with Canada and the U.S. in a photo finish. The Americans edged out Canada only by .03 of a second to win gold in a time of 5:59.26 (2000m). Canada's silver-medal winning time was 5:59.29, and the Netherlands took bronze in 6:03.20.
The eight rowing here is Lesley Thompson-Willie (London, ON), Darcy Marquardt (Richmond, BC), Ashley Brzozowicz (London, ON), Lauren Wilkinson (North Vancouver, BC), Andreanne Morin (Montreal, QC), Rachelle Viinberg (Regina, SK), Krista Guloien (Port Moody, BC), Cristy Nurse (Georgetown, ON) and Natalie Mastracci (Thorold, ON).
“It was a good race, but we would have liked to have had a different result,” said Darcy Marquardt. “This definitely fuels the fires for London.”
Earlier today, Scott Frandsen (Kelowna, BC) and David Calder (Victoria, BC) got back on the podium, this time as 2012 World Cup silver medalists in the men's pair.
“Our training and hard work has proved that you can teach an old dog new tricks,” said three-time Olympian, Dave Calder. “We’re pretty pumped and have got the countdown to London in our heads right now.”
Favourites New Zealand won in 6:24.04, overtaking Canada - Beijing silver medalists - who led for half of the race and finished in 6:26.77. Greece finished with a bronze medal in 6:30.04; and Germany (6:30.79), Great Britain (6:31.60) and Italy (6:35.86) rounded out the field.
The men’s eight had big hopes today after setting a world’s best time in the heat on Friday. They had a decent final, but finished in third to take a bronze.
“Both Germany and Great Britain got out to a bit of a quick start on us, and not that that is surprising because we know they are quick starters and so are we, but they got up on us,” said experienced coxswain, Brian Price. “It made it a little harder on ourselves from the 500 to 1500 (metres). When you don't win, you start to pick things apart - I think it's good for us to get back to Victoria and get back to our training and focus on the Olympics.”
Germany’s time was 5:27.47, Great Britain finished in 5:28.64 and Canada crossed the 2000-metre mark in 5:29,62.
This Canadian crew is coxswain Brian Price (Belleville, ON), Will Crothers (Kingston, ON), Jeremiah Brown (Cobourg, ON), Andrew Byrnes (Toronto, ON), Malcolm Howard (Victoria, BC), Conlin McCabe (Brockville, ON), Rob Gibson (Kingston, ON), Doug Csima (Oakville, ON) and Gabe Bergen (100 Mile House, BC).
The lightweight men's double of Doug Vandor (Dewittville, QC) and Morgan Jarvis (Winnipeg, MB) looked strong and in medal contention, until the finish when they were edged out by Denmark for the final medal position. France won in 6:22.78, followed by New Zealand in 6:24.32 and the Danes in 6:24.97. Canada's time was 6:25.18.
“We've been learning a lot this weekend,” explained Olympian Doug Vandor. “We were progressively getting better and it felt really strong this morning. We tried to take the best of our first race in the heat and the best of our second race, the semi, and combine them. The only place that we stumbled was the last 200 metres today, falling apart a bit. We were leading for most of the race; it's just learning how to hold onto that lead - stay composed under pressure and do what we have to do. I guess it's a good step forward, it's better to come fourth here than in two months time at the Olympics.”
“We are on track of reaching our medal potential goal,” said Peter Cookson, High Performance Director. “We've seen improvement in some of the boats, and with the weeks of solid training coming up, leading up to London, we will be in shape for the Games.”
Canada has seven boats qualified for the London 2012 Olympics. Most of the Canadian team will now head home to train, while the women’s eight will stay to train and compete in Europe.
– A nomination to the 2012 Olympic Games came down to one race and Jason McCoombs of Dartmouth, N.S., finished ahead of Aaron Rublee of Kamloops, B.C., to get the spot at a World Cup in Duisburg, Germany.
McCoombs finished sixth in the C-1 200 final clocking 41.415 seconds while Rublee took ninth spot in 41.727 seconds. Alfonso Benavides of Spain won the gold in 40.685.
“That race at the trials is what really gave me a lot of confidence,’’ said McCoombs. “That was the first time I had raced against those guys and it was the best race I’ve ever had. I was pretty nervous all this week but I always try to approach each race the same way.’’
In kayak, Hughes Fournel of Dorval, Que., and Ryan Cochrane of Windsor, N.S., took another step towards an Olympic nomination placing fifth in the K-2 200.
Canada can send only one K-2 team to the Games, and Fournel and Cochrane have posted better results the last two World Cups than K-2 1,000 pair Richard Dober Jr., of Trois-Rivieres, Que., and Steve Jorens of Candiac, Que.
“We came out to show that last weekend’s result was not a fluke,’’ said Cochrane, who earned the bronze with his partner in Poland last weekIn another Olympic event final, Dober Jr., was eighth in the K-1 200 final.
On Staurday, Olympic nominee Adam van Koeverden of Oakville, Ont., produced a second consecutive medal performance on the World Cup canoe and kayak circuit on Saturday earning silver in the K-1 1,000 metre.
The race was won by Aleh Yurenia of Belarus in three minutes and 26.286 seconds. van Koeverden, a bronze medallist last week in Poland, followed closely in 3:26.672 and Eirik Veraas Larsen of Norway was third in 3:26.906.
In a very fast men’s C-1 1,000 metre, Mark Oldershaw of Burlington, Ont., and Ben Russell of Dartmouth, N.S., were fourth and fifth. Oldershaw won the race last weekend to lock up his Olympic nomination. On Saturday he clocked a personal best time by three seconds at the distance finishing in 3:48.352. Sebastien Brendel of Germany was first in 3:46.677.
Montreal judoka Amy Cotton was crowned champion of the under-78 kg category at the Moscow Judo Grand Slam, while Whitby, Ont., native Kelita Zupancic took home a bronze medal in the under-70kg class.
Cotton, ranked 15th internationally, earned gold against Mongolia’s Lkhamdegd Purevjargal – ranked seventh in the world.
“Amy had three difficult competitors to face today and won each bout decisively, its clear she’s been working hard to come back after a difficult Winter,” said coach Nicolas Gill.
Zupancic, 17th in world rankings, beat Russia’s Ekaterina Dengenkova but was defeated in the semi-final by Brazil’s 10th-ranked Maria Portela.
“In the semi-final – against the eventual gold medallist – Kelita lost because of a Shido (penalty); that’s how tight the match was,” Gill said.
On Saturday, Sasha Mehmedovic and Sergio Pessoa Jr., both achieved fifth place rankings. Mehmedovic, 27, ranked 23rd in the world under-66 kg, was halted in the quarter-final by Uzbekistan’s Mirzahid Farmonov, himself ranked 27th in the world.
In the under-60 kg category, Sergio Pessoa Jr. kept the heat on up to the quarter-final round. Pessoa’s competitor, Mongolia’s Boldbaatar Ganbat, was the only athlete of the two able to score points during the five minute match on the tatami. Ganbat won the match by yuko, which also eliminated the Canadian judoka.
TRACK AND FIELD
Heptahlete Jessica Zelinka obtained the A qualifying standards in Gotzis, Austria and could try for the A-plus standard at Vancouver’s June 10 Harry Jerome Classic.
Zelinka scored 6,393 points, her second best score, to take sixth in the Hypomeeting in Gotzis where gold medal favourite Jessica Ennis of Britain broke her national record with 6,906 points.
Dylan Armstrong of Kamloops, B.C., shone in the Hengelo meet in the Netherlands to make it three shot put golds in the past five days. He started this European tour in the Czech Republic with a throw of 20.93m at the Turnov Ludvik Danek meeting on May 22nd. Next stop in Ostrava, he defeats the 2008 Olympic champion, Tomaz Majewski of Poland and 2011 World Championship gold medalist, David Storl of Germany with 21.29m on May 25th at the Golden Spike meeting. Today after just 2 hours sleep in this world wind tour, he increases his distance to 21.44m to win at the Hengelo Fanny Blankers-Koen event. Justine Rodhe was fifth at 19.38..
At Regina, Toronto’s Karen Cockburn tuned up for the Olympics, winning her 13th women’s individual title with a personal best score Saturday night.
Cockburn, 31, who won a bronze medal at the inaugural 2000 Olympics and followed up with silver medals at both the 2004 and 2008 Games, finished well ahead of runner-up Samantha Smith of Vancouver.
. “I feel like I’m right on track and I’m not getting too stressed out with the Games getting closer,” Cockburn said. “I feel like I’m in a really great place right now. My routines are set and now I’m fine tuning trying to get more execution points and more flight time points.”
In men’s trampoline Jason Burnett of Toronto, who will be chasing his second straight Olympic medal in London, delivered a clean routine en route to his seventh Canadian title.
While Canada’s trampoline team is already set for the Games the battle for Olympic spots in men’s and women’s gymnastics saw the top eight women earn automatic invitations to a final Olympic selection camp to be held in Gatineau, Que., at the end of June. Four more will be added to the mix.
A five-woman Olympic team plus one reserve athlete will be named following the final selection meet. The top three ranked gymnasts so far are Kristina Vaculik of Whitby, Ont., Victoria Moors of Cambridge, Ont., who and Dominique Pegg of Sarnia, Ont. Rounding out the top eight are: Ellie Black of Halifax, Jessica Savona of Oakville, Ont, Brittany Rogers of Coquitlam, B.C., Madeline Gardiner and Mikaela Gerber, both of Cambridge, Ont.
Vaculik won the all around Canadian title last week and won three more medals in the event finals on Sunday, winning gold on uneven bars and balance beam and silver on floor.
Moors, second all around, added individual gold on floor and silver on uneven bars and Pegg, third all around, won bronze medals on vault and beam.
Competition on the men’s team is even more fierce with just one Olympic spot up for grabs.
Calgary’s Nathan Gafuik was the only competitor to meet the selection standard in Regina with just two more qualification events in Europe remaining for others to challenge for the Olympic berth.
Gafuik, who won the men’s all around title, reached the standard in the men’s qualification round with a score on high bar that would have placed him fourth at the 2011 world championships.
In Saturday’s event finals, Scott Morgan of Vancouver won three medals including gold on rings and vault. Other winners were Gafuik on high bar, Jayd Lukenchuk of Saskatoon on parallel bars, Robert Watson of Coquitlam, B.C. on floor and Ken Ikeda of Abottsford, B.C. on pommel horse.
Canadian Olympians Martha McCabe of Toronto, Brent Hayden of Mission, B.C., and Scott Dickens of Ancaster, Ont., each won a gold medal at the Mel Zajac Jr-Canada Cup swimming competition, a high-calibre meets that had 10 Australian and 10 Canadian Olympians
In the women’s 200 breaststroke, McCabe produced a strong second length to win in two minutes and 25.81 seconds. Tera van Beilen of Oakville, Ont., also headed to London, followed in 2:27.93..
In the men’s 200 breaststroke, Dickens collected his second victory and meet record placing first in 2:13.80. Dickens is qualified for the 100 and 200 breaststroke for London.
In the men’s 50 freestyle, Hayden notched the win in 22.76 while his Olympic teammate Tommy Gossland of Vancouver was sixth.