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photo: USAT Communications
Reed Gets Job Done in Vancouver
Matt Reed has been on a mission since winning the U.S. Olympic Trials in April and later learning his Olympic qualifying effort may be in jeopardy.
Reed (Boulder, Colo.) earned key Olympic qualifying points in two World Cup events over the last month and entered Sunday's ITU Triathlon World Championship in Vancouver, Canada, trying to keep the U.S. among the top eight countries guaranteed to have three men competing at the Beijing Olympic Games in August.
Reed overcame the cold water of English Bay, stayed with the front pack throughout the 40k bike, and used a strong run to earn a fifth-place finish, guaranteeing his Olympic berth and securing a spot for a third teammate to join him and Jarrod Shoemaker in Beijing.
The U.S. was seventh in the world team rankings entering the race, just ahead of Russia and Australia. Reed was keeping an eye on athletes from those and several other countries throughout the race, knowing that his placement among these competitors would be key.
"The first lap I was a little worried." Reed said. "Polyansky was a guy I had to look for, and he ran to the front. And Greg Bennett ran to the front. If he had gotten a podium, he could've knocked us out as well. Then he dropped off. I was running with Polyansky and I knew I could outsprint him. In the end, it went really well."
The finish was Reed's best in eight World Championship appearances, and it was the best finish by a U.S. man since Brad Kearns finished fifth in 1992.
"It was a good performance today. I didn't feel great at all. I'm just glad it's over. I just raced my own race," said Reed. "I wanted to feel better on the bike. I kind of struggled on the hill a little bit. The run, I knew I had to get out of transition up in front, and I did that. I just tried to keep up in front as long as I could."
Spanish star Javier Gomez won the title with a time of 1:49:48, followed by Bevan Docherty (New Zealand) in 1:50:12. Reto Hug (Switzerland) rounded out the podium with a 1:50:17 third place finish. Reed, who finished just nine seconds behind Hendrik de Villiers (South Africa), turned in a time of 1:50:27 and outsprinted home country favorite Simon Whitfield of Canada.
Other Americans in the race did a great job to assist Reed in his effort, especially on the bike. Tim O'Donnell (Shavertown, Pa.) finished 50th and Brian Fleischmann (Jacksonville, Fla.) did not finish due to back spasms. Doug Friman (Tuscson, Ariz.) finished 52nd and Jarrod Shoemaker (Sudbury, Mass.) was 62nd,
Reed's performance was noteworthy because of the amount of racing he has done in recent weeks to earn these key points. But the mental stresses have been just as fatiguing.
"It was pretty hard mentally," he said. "When I won the Olympic Trials, I didn't expect to have to do this. In a way, I was very frustrated. I was trying to use it as a positive thing, race against some of the best guys in the sport in Richards Bay, Madrid and here. It's over now, and I'm happy."
Read the recap from ITU.
Vancouver BG Triathlon World Championships, Canada
Elite Men - Unofficial Results
1.5km swim, 40km swim, 10km run
Gold - Javier Gomez (ESP) 1:49:48
Silver - Bevan Docherty (NZL) 1:50:12
Bronze - Reto Hug (SUI) 1:50:17
4th - Hendrik de Villiers (RSA) 1:50:18
5th - Matthew Reed (USA) 1:50:28
6th - Simon Whitfield (CAN) 1:50:28
7th - Igor Sysoev (RUS) 1:50:28
8th - Tony Moulai (FRA) 1:50:31
9th - Paul Tichelaar (CAN) 1:50:32
10th - Ivan Vasiliev (RUS) 1:50:34