Sophia Saller wins U23 World Title in stunning style
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Germany’s Sophia Saller turned her silver European Championship medal into gold when she stormed home on the run to win the U23 Women’s World Championship today in a time of 2:04:52 to beat home a brave Gillian Backhouse (AUS) by 33 seconds. With a monster run, Erin Jones (USA) came from behind to collect the bronze medal.
“I don’t know what to say I didn’t feel too good on the swim, got out of the water just behind the lead pack Leonie Periault (FRA) and I just gunned it going up the hill and caught them at the tunnel. Just got to stay in there and run for my life,” Saller said.
An emotional Backhouse was overwhelmed at the finish and so happy to repay everyone that helped her.
“I’m totally proud, a year ago I never thought in my whole career that I’d be on a World Championship podium let alone winning silver,” said Backhouse.
“Last year everyone had wirtten me off but my parents and coach Steven Moss believed in me and I’m so pleased to be able to repay them,” she added.
Australia’s Kelly-Ann Perkins was the first to emerge from the 1.5km swim leading from the outset with a group of five that followed her out in quick succession. They included the pre race favourites Backhouse and Saller.
Backhouse collected her first World Cup win in Chengdu this year and a very strong bike/run combination, she was quick to take charge on the first of four laps on the bike. The group of seven Amelia Kretz (CAN), Saller, Sophie Corbidge (NZL), Leonie Periault (FRA), and Anastasia Gorbunova (RUS) all worked superbly to put a minute into the chase group of six at the 20km mark.
The gap only continued to grow over the six-lap bike for more than a minute advantage off the bike. Saller and Backhouse then showed their class as they broke away on the first lap of the run. Midway through the four-lap run, Saller initiated her intent for the gold medal, opening a 30-second advantage. From there, the win was all hers. Behind her, Backhouse backed up her Duathlon World Championship title with a silver medal.
“It was good having the girls that were willing to work and I knew it was critical to stay away from those girls behind bcasue I didn’t want to have to run against some of the fastest runners back there,” said Backhouse.
In one of the most impressive runs of the day, Erin Jones (USA), who was down nearly a minute and a half off the bike, charged through the 10km run. She picked off competitors one by one until she made her way on the podium in bronze.
“It was amazing, I felt great our team did awesome yesterday, it was a huge motivation to go hard today. Watching Gwen run like she did yesterday gave me motivation that I could run from the chase pack and I did,” said Jones.
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