Western Australian Rhianna Hepburn has picked herself up off the canvas to secure a top ten finish in the Junior Women’s World Triathlon Sprint Championship in Hamburg – storming home after an unfortunate mishap at the end of the 20-kilometre bike leg.
As the 20-strong lead group dismounted, jostling for positions into the second transition to prepare for the five-kilometre run, Hepburn lost control of her bike.
She then slipped over, having to run back to collect the bike as up to ten girls ran past her.
By the time the 19-year-old from Perth picked herself up and racked her bike, fellow Australian Emma Olson-Keating had momentarily led the field onto the first of two 2.5km run laps – Hepburn tailed off towards the end of the lead group in 19th.
Hepburn, who missed last year’s World Championships after a training accident, eventually cleared transition and despite the huge task ahead of her, wasted no time pegging back runners one-by-one, eventually crossing the line for a strong ninth place finish in 57 minutes 43 seconds.
It was a brave performance by the teen, who in the end finished just 40 seconds off the podium, in a world championship that saw French star Ilona Hadhoum steal a 20 second march on the swim, before eventually running away to record an impressive victory in a time of 56:47.
Mexico’s Jimena De la Pena took the silver after passing Manon Laporte from France in the closing stages, with Laporte clinging to bronze.
Olson-Keating, after showing her wares as the Australian girls fought hard to maintain their positions in the lead pack on the bike, finished 16th in 59:13 with Alex Field, also working hard on the bike, 49th in 1:02.51.
In the Junior Men, it was the Gold Coast’s Bradley Course who was the best of the Australians in 14th followed by Mitch Blackbourn 25th, Jack Crome 28th and Thomas Feldmann 42nd.
Crome, a strong swim-biker, was out of the 750m swim alongside two Hungarian boys in the top four with Feldman also well positioned in the top ten but missing the front pack onto the 20km bike course.
The race quickly developed into what was shaping as a Hungarian masterclass for the first half of the race as Marton Kropko and Zalan Gabor pulled clear of the field along with Crome and Gregor Rasva (Estonia)
While it was Hobor and Crome who had a short-lived advantage out onto the run, it was Kropko and Rasza who were soon back on them before the two Hungarians were away, Hobor setting the pace.
It wasn’t long before Crome and Rasva were swallowed up by the podium power of Joao Nuno Batista (Portugal), Nils Serre Gehri (France) and Mathis Beaulieu (Canada) – who had the Hungarians in their sights.
The medal-winning trio unleashed on the second of two laps of the 5km run with Batista eventually summoning the power to put in one final surge onto the blue carpet to claim victory in 51:11 and joining his brother Ricardo (2019 winner) in the World Junior history books.
Serre Gehri (51:14) hung on for the silver ahead of Beaulieu (51:16) with Course (51:57) securing a place in the top 20.
The Australians will now re-group and their attentions to the Under23/Junior Mixed Team Relay on Saturday.
World Triathlon Junior Sprint Championship - Results
9th - Rhianna Hepburn
16th - Emma Olson-Keating
49th - Alexandra Field
14th - Brad Course
25th - Mitchell Blackbourn
28th - Jack Crome
42th - Thomas Feldmann