Volume 96, Issue 92
Tuesday, March 25, 2003

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Triathletes tear-up campus

Kaye and Loaring win big

By Jamie Kupka
Gazette Writer

Ian Howes/Gazette
LOST IN A SEA OF CYCLES. Western played host to a triathlon this weekend, giving all the people in the world with way too much motivation and drive something to do.

Two Canadian Olympic triathlon hopefuls kicked off their 2003 racing seasons with the UWO Icebreaker triathlon this past Saturday.

Alicia Kaye and James Loaring were the two favourites – for the women's and men's fields respectively – heading into the race.

Kaye, a first-year student at Laurentian University, showed the women's field who was boss right from the starting gun. Kaye gained time on her closest competition in each leg of the race. And she did it all with a smile on her face, true to her pre-race intention, to "have fun, [and] reintroduce myself to racing."

Kaye also happens to be coached by the same staff that guided Canadian Simon Whitfield to triathlon gold at the 2000 Olympic Summer games in Sydney, Australia.

Kaye shrugged off pre-race expectations. "I'll be racing without a watch or [bike] computer today, focusing internally, not keying off of anyone. So, if I get beaten... good for the girl who beats me – I mean, I've been training hard, so if she beats me, good for her," Kaye said.

She had a similarly measured approach to her bright future in the sport. "Right now, school is the priority. I'll be done in 2006, which will give me two solid years to get ready for a shot at the Beijing Olympics in 2008," Kaye said.

The men's race was a heated affair with Shawn Bechtel going toe-to-toe with pre-race favourite, James Loaring, a former University of Windsor student.

Bechtel was eager to take on his training partner. "My goal is to swim with James, to be off the bike ahead of him and to hold him and his broken-toe off for as long as possible on the run," Bechtel said.

While Bechtel was focused on the future, Loaring was focused on redeeming the past. "Last year, I was second [in this race], and wasn't happy. So, [this year] I'd like to step up," Loaring said before the race.

Obviously, with a first place finish, things went according to plan.

From the starting gun, Loaring and Bechtel swam shoulder to shoulder, stroke for stroke, breath for breath. By the end of the 850-yard swim section, Loaring managed to open a two body-length lead, a gap that Bechtel would close in the first moments of the bike portion. The two then rode shoulder-to-shoulder with no regard for the rainy conditions on campus.

The friendly racing wouldn't last long. Loaring burst into the running portion of the race like he was trying to catch a bus, quickly building up a gap between himself and Bechtel. By the end of the first of three laps of the five kilometre run course, that gap had grown to 25 metres. Loaring would extend his lead over the remainder of the run to cross the finish line in a comfortable first place.

After cooling down from the effort of the day, Loaring turned his focus to the future. "The ultimate goal is to make it to the Olympics. In the short term, it's to get onto the ITU [professional triathlon] circuit and tow the line with the big guys."

Even with his broken toe, we're sure he'll tow the line.

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2002 THE GAZETTE