Canada puts 5 rookies on Olympic triathlon team

No Canadians met internal Olympic selection criteria, so a Triathlon Canada committee named five Olympic rookies to the team on Wednesday.

Selection committee chooses team after missed criteria

After missing the team for the past two Olympics, 27-year-old Kirsten Sweetland is finally going. (Andrew Vaughan/The Canadian Press)

Five first-time Olympians — three women and two men — will represent Canada in Rio as a protracted selection process came to an end on Wednesday.

Kirsten Sweetland, Amélie Kretz, and Sarah-Anne Brault are the three women competing for Canada, while Tyler Mislawchuk and Andrew Yorke represent the men's side.

The announcement was expected earlier this month, but no Canadian had met the individual standards set by Triathlon Canada. The original requirements were a top-eight finish at the 2015 Rio test event, or the ITU World Triathlon Grand Final in Chicago, as well as a subsequent top-eight at any World Triathlon Series event in 2016.

These were revised to a secondary standard which, involved a top-eight finish at one of three "targeted" events (Abu Dhabi, Gold Coast, or Yokohama) plus any top-eight finish dating back to May 2014.

Neither standard was met, so a Triathlon Canada committee determined who would fill the three women's and two men's spots for Rio. 

No returning Olympians, but there is experience

Brault, 26, is from Quebec City but lived and trained in Manitoba between the ages of eight and 18. She has five top-15 finishes on the World Triathlon Series. 

Sweetland, 27,  was a world junior champion in 2006 and won silver at the 2014 Commonwealth Games. However, the Victoria-native has been through her share of injury nightmares. A bacteria infection in 2014 was later tested to be a toxic mold illness and a Rickettsia infection. Sweetland raced internationally only three times in 2015, but returned to the World Triathlon Series in May of this year. 

"This means everything to me. It's so much sweeter after the struggle I have had over the last 10 years to get here," said Sweetland in a Canadian Olympic Committee release. "After a breakout season in 2014, and then facing an unimaginable amount of health issues, I never lost sight of my dream. To say it's been tough would be an understatement, but I have never been happier." 

The youngest woman is 23-year-old Amélie Kretz, from Blainville, Que. Her eighth-place finish at a World Triathlon Series event in Yokohama in May was a career best. It was also the final Olympic qualifying event on Triathlon Canada's revised criteria. 

Mislawchuk, 21, from Oak Bluff, Man., has two 10th-place finishes — Abu Dhabi then Yokohama — this season. He was also 10th at last summer's Pan Am Games. Yorke, 27, a native of Caledon East, Ont. was seventh at the 2015 Pan American Games, the top Canadian finish. 

"It is exhilarating for the five of us to experience such an epic event like the Olympics for the first time together. Fortunately we all have multi-sport games experience on the world stage," said Mislawchuk.

The men's Olympic triathlon event is up first on Aug. 18, followed by the women's event two days later.   


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