Western Australian Felicity Sheedy-Ryan has won Australia’s first gold medal of the ITU Multi-Sport World Championships in Penticton, Canada today after a brave and at times scary solo effort on the bike sealed her second Duathlon world crown.
The “never-say-die” 32-year-old rode the tough, hilly, technical 40km bike leg, featuring tricky, sharp corners by herself after surging out of transition following the opening lakeside 10km run.
And despite a limited preparation she managed to hang on over the final five kilometre run to steal the victory from Spain’s National Champion Margarita Garica-Canellas with two-time and defending champion Emma Pallant from Great Britain taking the bronze.
It was another stellar day for the girl from WA who won her first world crown in 2012 in Nancy in France.
“This is awesome to win my second world championship race. Coming into this that was obviously a goal of mine and I knew there were some strong girls out there today,” said Sheedy-Ryan, the Aussie girl known as “Flick” in the triathlon world.
“One world title is very special but to win a second one I’m really stoked with it.”
But world titles are never handed to you on a platter and there were times in the lead up to the race when she thought it may not happen.
“I’ve had a funny lead up to Penticton. I actually rolled my ankle a couple of weeks ago so I didn’t get to do the work I needed to do on the run; I was actually feeling myself out a little but in the early stages of the first run,” said Sheedy-Ryan.
“But after I went out over the course yesterday I saw how hard it (the bike course) was and I thought that would help and play to my strengths a little bit.
“I wasn’t relaxed until the last couple of hundred metres, I know anything can happen in these races.
“My goal was to stick with the girls and stay in touch (on the run) …and it was a pretty solid pace for the first 10km but then bit by bit it whistled down to just the three of us, including Emma Pallant who pushed pretty hard up the front and I just wanted to hang on.
“I knew the course would be really hard on the bike and it would be a long day and I wanted to wait it out until the end.
“I got out of transition first on the run and got a gap straight away on the bike. Hills are my bread and butter and I waited for the girls to catch up but when I still had the gap and I was feeling comfortable I said, ‘stuff it I’ll give it a crack and see what happens.’
“It was a bit scary to ride solo for 40km. That was a pretty big gamble and not something I’m used to.
“But I knew the course would be really hard and after my ankle mishap I didn’t really know where I was at with my running so I thought if I could get a gap in the bike it would be in my best interests and I was lucky it played out that way today.
“On the last lap of the run I was starting to feel it but with a course like that nobody can really hide and I just told myself everyone else is going to be hurting on the run so just keep pushing and give it a shot.”
In the end, it was Sheedy-Ryan who notched a comfortable win in 2 hours 03 minutes 57 seconds from Garcia-Canellas (2:05.14) with Pallant (2:06.2) taking the bronze.