Puerto Vallarta, Mexico — Canada's Brent McMahon completed a stellar comeback season after missing more than one year of competition with an injury by capturing the bronze medal at the 2011 Pan American Games in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico on Sunday.
The 30-year-old McMahon, who returned to elite race this action this spring after taking 18 months off with a career-threatening knee injury, locked up the second Pan American Games medal of his career by finishingthird with a time of one hour, 48 minutes, 23 seconds (1:48:23). The Victoria resident won the silver medal at the 2007 Pan American Games in Rio Di Janeiro.
"I did everything I could to come out of here with the gold but I just came up a little short," said McMahon. "I put everything out there today and I'm super happy to win a medal for Canada."
Ranked number two heading into the race, McMahon came out of the water after the 1.5-kilometre swim in the lead group with teammate Kyle Jones, of Oakville, Ont. The two Canucks pushed the pace on the 40-kilometre bike, opening a one-minute gap on the chase group after the opening lap. While the chase group closed the gap to 30 seconds on the leaders, McMahon led the field through the intense heat into the second transition and was the first athlete onto the 10-kilometre run course.
With an Olympic berth for the gold medallist's nation on the line, McMahon and Jones were amongst five athletes on the run with a shot at the title. It was a bit of a chess match for the Olympic and gold medal prize amongst the top-three athletes, but in the end, it was Brasil's Reinaldo Colucci finished first with a time of 1:48:02. Manuel Huerter, of the United States, was second at 1:48:16.
"I took it out hard on the run and I believe that got me into medal contention today," said McMahon. "I put a couple of early surges on to see if I could crack those guys, but they keptresponding. The final kilometre I raced about 10-metres back and just gave it everything I had to keep going and finish on the podium."
Kyle Jones, who won three consecutive Continental Cup races this year and was the top-ranked athlete heading into the race, narrowly missed the podium in fourth spot after clocking-in at 1:48:45.
"I am pretty disappointed because I expected to win today and I wasn't able to deliver," said Jones. "It wasn't a bad race. I just felt like I was in fourth gear all day and couldn't find that next gear on the run. It is a little frustrating."
It has been nothing short of a remarkable comeback season for McMahon. With a goal of qualifying three Canadian athletes for the 2012 Olympic Summer Games, the determined McMahon has posted
solid results around the world. The 2004 Olympian won three straight bronze medals at Continental Cup races in Asia earlier this summer before capturing his first ever World Cup victory when he won the gold in Tiszaujvaros, Hungary. McMahon headed into the Pan American Games coming off his best-ever finish on the World Championship Series where he placed ninth in Yokohama, Japan.
"This medal means a lot more than the silver in Rio," said McMahon. "It has been a long, hard and tough road back to get to my top fitness. I believe I am faster now than I have ever been. Things have come together so well and I'm just so glad as Canadians we came out of here with a medal. We are still one of the top-ranked countries and still have a shot at qualifying three athletes for the Olympics."
Montreal's Kathy Tremblay also enjoyed her best finish of the season in the women's Pan American Games race on Sunday morning. The 29-year-old closed nearly a four-minute gap on the
leaders during the bike after battling through a difficult swim. Competing side-by-side with one of the world's best triathletes in Barbara Riveros throughout the race until the eight-kilometre mark of the run, Tremblay celebrated a fifth-place finish at 2:01:13.
"That was my best run since the beginning of the season," said Tremblay. "I had a difficult year, but I'm looking at this as the first race of the new season. It was a good sign for me that I'm back on track and tells me I can do it. That was a really good, hard effort and I'm really pleased."
Sarah Haskins, of the United States, won the women's gold medal with a time of 1:57:37. Chile's Riveros ran to the silver step on the podium at 2:00:23, while Brasil's Pamella Nascimento rounded out the women's medal winners, placing third at 2:00:32.
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