ABU DHABI, UAE — Canada’s Stefan Daniel reclaimed his place as the king of Para triathlon while Kamylle Frenette celebrated her first podium at the 2022 World Championships in Abu Dhabi on Thursday.
Calgary’s Daniel won his fifth career World Championship title in the men’s standing division, while Frenette (Dieppe, N.B.) climbed onto her first World Championship podium after taking the bronze in the women’s standing classification.
Winnipeg’s Leanne Taylor narrowly missed the podium with a fourth-place finish in the women’s wheelchair race.
Daniel dusted the field in the men’s PTS5 classification with a time of 58:24.
“I was pretty emotional crossing the line today. It’s been a year building back my love for the sport,” said Daniel, who has been working his way back to elite form from injury. “To cap it off this way is unbelievable and something I did not expect.”
The 25-year-old proved he is back, putting his injury woes behind him to climb back onto the top of the podium with an electrifying run that has propelled the soft-spoken Canuck to six previous World Championship medal-winning performances.
The two-time Paralympic medallist came out of the 750-metre swim behind Brazil’s Ronan Cordeiro and his top-rival, Germany’s Martin Schulz, after getting tangled up in the swim. The tenacious Canuck clawed his way to the front of the 20-kilometre bike before bolting away from the field with a brilliant five-kilometre run.
“I just wanted to stay within myself in the heat. I tried to get out well in the swim but came out about 10 seconds behind where I wanted to be,” said Daniel, who credited his ability to remain calm and being smart while racing through the extreme heat for his victory.
“The bike I just tried to stay behind Schulz. I wanted to keep it close but didn’t want to overheat, and then on the run, I wanted to get a gap early and keep a consistent pace the rest of the way. I’m extremely happy with the result. I am pleased to be fit and healthy at the end of the year.”
Schulz, the two-time Paralympic champion, was the next best finisher 49 seconds back of Daniel at 59:13. Chris Hammer, of the United States, clocked-in at 1:00:50 for the bronze medal.
After fourth-place finishes in her first two World Championship starts and at her Paralympic debut in Tokyo, Frenette broke through to win the bronze medal.
“I executed the swim as planned and was able to hold on to the top girls,” said Frenette. “I surprised myself on the bike and managed to keep in contact with them. The run was tough, but that’s triathlon.
“I’m very excited to have shared this day with my family who travelled all the way across the world, and I am honoured to come home with my first ever World Championship medal.”
A frontline worker during the pandemic, the 26-year-old pharmacy graduate who delivered COVID vaccinations in Nova Scotia during the pandemic while continuing her training and preparation for the 2020 Paralympic Games, completed the race of her life in a time of 1:08:52.
Grace Norman, of the United States, won her fifth career World Championship title with a time of 1:05:59. Claire Cashmore, of the United States, claimed the silver at 1:07:21.
It was a bittersweet day for Leanne Taylor who came up just short in her quest for a first World Championship podium.
The ever-positive Winnipegger, who was left paralyzed from the waist down following a mountain bike accident four years ago, enjoyed one of the strongest performances in her young triathlon career.
The 29-year-old took fourth place after stopping the clock at 1:13:32 in the deep women’s wheelchair classification.
“I’m really happy to come fourth at Worlds. It is a huge improvement from last year,” said Taylor. “Of course to be just shy of the podium is a little disappointing but this is only going to make me more hungry. I’m so proud of how far I’ve come and ready to put in the work it takes to finish on the podium next year!”
Australia’s Lauren Parker won the race category with a time of 1:08:43. Kendall Gretsch, of the United States, was second at 1:09:08 while Brazil’s Jessica Ferreira rounded out the women’s wheelchair podium with a time of 1:11:12.