Triathletes rejoiced when one of their own was Canada’s flag-bearer for their official entry at the 2012 Summer Olympic Games.
Simon Whitfield, who won Canada’s first gold medal when he captured the Olympic triathlon at the 2000 Summer Games in Australia, was chosen as much for his achievements as for his example and how he has elevated the sport, says Patsy Gallant, a fellow triathlete at Olympic and Iron distances, who helped organize the 2012 Melmerby triathlon July 22 at Melmerby Beach.
“People don’t know the sport so well, but it brings more awareness for the sport to people when he’s given that honour, and he is an exceptional athlete,” she said. “He wasn’t so well known when he won his gold medal but now he’s known the world over among triathletes.”
The Melmerby triathlon this year continues a tradition of similar events involving Melmerby Beach and draws the history of a cargo ship bearing the same name that ran around in the late 1800s.
Gallant said the name gives the event more of an identity and honours the memory of those who perished in the disaster.
“A lot of people have said it should have been called that from the beginning,” she said.
For the third straight year, Ryan MacDonald of New Glasgow won the Olympic triathlon, one of the disciplines that drew 122 participants and 60 volunteers, including members of the Pictou County RCMP, Little Harbour Fire Department and New Glasgow Police Service.
The events were also supported by Melmerby Beach park staff and Nova Scotia Lifeguard Service.
MacDonald’s time was 2:05:57 in the discipline that includes a 1,500 metre swim, 40 kilometre cyclist route and a 10 kilometre run.
Richard Isnor of Lutes Mountain, N.B. was second in 2:11:48, while Adam Deveau of Halifax was third in 2:14:45.
Top female was Brigette Sabourin of Halifax in 2:36:28, followed by Rene Lahore of Waverley in 2:41:55 and Michelle Zunti of New Glasgow in 2:44:09.
The try a tri and super sprint each includes a 300 metre swim, 8-K bike ride and 2-K run. Overall winner was Nick Dolomount of Corner Brook, N.L. ahead of Kathleen Bellevieu of Dartmouth, and Mitchell MacDonald of Ardness.
Results in the sprint with its 750 metre swim, 20-K bike and 5-K run included male winner Brad Allen of Beaver Dam, N.S. in 1:08:36 ahead of Joey Romney of Boutiliers in 1:16:32 and Morgan Armstrong of Halifax in 1:17:20.
Female winner was Donna Trites of Fredericton in 1:16:02, Tracey Burke of Bedford, N.S. in 1:24:55 and Jennifer Lenandowcki of Halifax in 1:24:59.
MacDonald also earned the Fred Lays Memorial award as the youngest Olympic distance finisher, while Adam Breen won the Paul MacDonald Memorial award presented to the local triathlete who participates for fun and fitness and Nancy Mouton received the Verna van Bommel Memorial award for dedicated volunteer.