By Masa Takaya on 14/07/11 at 7:31 pm
Youth Olympic champion Aaron Barclay’s (NZL) took a big step toward his long-term goal - racing in the 2016 Rio Olympic Games – successfully implementing his strategy of staying in the leader pack in both the swim and bike portions at the 2011 San Francisco ITU Triathlon Pan American Cup on Saturday.
The 19 year old, who is currently carrying a lower shin injury, finished in 31st in the 53-athlete men’s field, clocking 2 hours, 6 minutes and 42 seconds. It was his second time competing against international elite athletes in the classic 51.5km distance race, following his first test at the ITU Continental Cup in Mooloolaba, Australia, in March, when he placed 37th.
Saturday’s race was won by Matthew Sharpe (CAN), who clocked 1:56:42. Sarah-Anne Brault (CAN) was the winner in the women’s contest with 2:05:04.
”San Francisco was an opportunity to see how I raced after experiencing my first altitude (intensive training) block in Boulder, Colorado, with TRI NZ Elite Development Squad,” Barclay said. “I saw San Francisco as an opportunity to race a competitive field and achieve goals in both the swim and bike sections.”
Barclay’s primary focus at the race was to climb out of the water in the front pack and to maintain the position on bike. He successfully exited the water sixth in 19:00 and stayed in the main pack until the end of the bike finish.
“The objective in the run was to finish and look after my shins,” he added. “I am satisfied from a strategic perspective as I build towards Beijing in September. I am confident my injury will have resolved by then.”
The Dextro Energy Triathlon ITU World Championship Grand Final Beijing in September is his next event. Barclay is set to compete in the Junior World Championships there.
Asked about his elite races, Barclay said, “(There is) more opportunity to split the field up in the swim and bike due to a longer distance. Everyone runs faster.”
It has been almost a year since the Youth Olympics in Singapore, that taught him to deal with the expectations associated with international level races.
“YOG gave me an opportunity to race a world-class field. It exposed me to an environment where I had to learn to deal with pressure,” he recollected.
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