Saanich athletes staying cool at Pan Am Games

Hannah Henry wins triathlon relay silver, Erin Attwell set to go

One Saanich athlete has a silver medal in her pocket while another is primed to go at the 2019 Pan Am Games in Lima, Peru.

Mount Douglas secondary grad Hannah Henry, 19, helped Canada win silver as part of the four-person mixed triathlon relay on Monday. The team consisted of Desirae Ridenour from Cowichan Bay and two men, Charles Paquet and Alexis Lepage, both from Quebec.

Inset photo: Alexis Lepage, Charles Paquet, of Desirae Ridenour and Saanich’s Hannah Henry celebrate silver on the finish line of the triathlon mixed relay on Monday. (Photo Chris Dornan/Triathlon Canada)

Each member of the foursome did a 300-metre swim, 6.6-kilometre bike ride and 1.5 km run. They finished the triathlon relay in second with a time of 1:20:51.

Meanwhile, Saanich’s Erin Attwell, 20, is literally chilling out awaiting her first event, the 4,000-metre track cycling team pursuit. Qualifying goes Thursday morning and the finals are Thursday night. She’ll also compete in the road race on Aug. 10.

READ MORE: Eighteen UVic athletes competing at Pan Am Games

When Attwell and her teammates Maggie Coles-Lyster, Miriam Brouwer and Laurie Jussaume arrived at the Videna velodrome for a training ride they encountered 15.5 C temperatures inside, same as the outside. That’s a lot cooler than the temperature-controlled track they regularly train on in Milton, Ont.

“Hopefully they turn up the heat,” Attwell said Tuesday from Lima. “Doing team pursuit practice with thick jerseys and leg warmers isn’t ideal, but we are making do.”

The track has mesh walls above the stands, so even though it has a newly added roof it is still open air, she said. They’re aiming to ride the 4km distance in less than four minutes and 28 seconds and so far the cold hasn’t seemed to slow them down.

“As long as we execute we should do well,” added Attwell, who also races for the Cyclery semipro team out of Ottawa. “The cold, however, is a factor we did not consider, but everyone is in the same boat.”

Maple Ridge’s Coles-Lyster is the sprinter of the bunch and will ride in the lead spot with Attwell second, Jussaume third and Brouwer fourth (cyclists in the team pursuit take turns rotating through and to “pull” the group from the front).

The team is loaded with pedigree. Jussaume and Attwell are both former junior national road race champs and Coles-Lister medalled at the world junior track championships.

If Attwell can make it on the podium, it will be the second time her and Henry have hit the podium at a major games, as they both medalled twice at the 2015 Western Canada Games in Wood Buffalo, Alta.

Cycling Canada’s selections for the Pan Am Games were made in May and the team ran through a big camp in early July.

“We are fortunate enough to not only race on the track but also compete for a medal in the road events as well,” added Attwell, the 2016 national junior road race champ.

“Our team is very technically sound and if we pull off a perfect ride in that regard, we could have a very fast time. Hopefully placing us on the top step [of the podium].”

The 2019 Pan Am Games run from July 26 to Aug. 11 and has about 6,700 athletes from 41 nations.

READ MORE: Gordon Head cyclist rides to new Canadian record

READ ALSO: Teen cyclists ready to take on the world

reporter@oakbaynews.com


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Alexis Lepage, Charles Paquet, of Desirae Ridenour and Saanich’s Hannah Henry celebrate silver on the finish line of the triathlon mixed relay on Monday. Henry is one of two Saanich athletes at the Games as cyclist Erin Attwell will compete in track cycling on Thursday. (Photo Chris Dornan/Triathlon Canada)

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