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1997 World Triathlon Championships: Perth, Australia

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Aussie Talent and Pride Out Races the World
Perth, Australia, taught the race directors of the world how to run a world-class event November 16, 1997. The Australian athletes taught the world how to race.
    The Australians--inspired by national pride, a history of competition, and the emotion of Sidney 2000--dinged the armor of American age-group dominance and toasted the pros with more intensity than Perth's brilliant sun.
    The Aussie age groups set the tone on race day, feeding off the enthusiastic cheers of the home-country crowd. Green and yellow race suits proceeded to devour the field and punctuate Australia's reputation for toughness.
    A perfect day, a perfect race venue and racing perfection were conspiring to put Perth on the map.
    As the last of the age groupers made their way out of the run transition, Emma Carney, Jackie Gallagher and Michellie Jones geared up for an Australian pro-women sweep to the podium. 
Chris McCormack brings his win home.
Carney pulls through the bike then runs away
    After pulling much of the field through the bike, Carney was determined to leave no doubt about  her number one standing. As the lead group of runners left the transition, Carney proceeded to anchor a three-woman Australian pace line on the run that kept Gallagher and Jones spinning to stay in touch.
    Jones, her Reeboks crimson with blood from lacerated feet injured during the run transition, fell off the pace and Gallagher, although strong to the finish, was  no match for Carney's determined speed and her 0:32:53 run split. Carney finished in 1:59:22, 14 seconds ahead of Gallagher. All that remained for a perfect Australian afternoon was the men's results.

McCormack too strong for Carter and Lessing
    New Zealand's Hamish Carter and Britain's Simon Lessing managed to prevent the Aussie machine from total domination of the pro ranks by finishing 2nd and 3rd to Chris McCormack.
    Only 10 seconds apart out of the water, the ITU's draft-legal bike kept the top five finishers together in front of the chase pack--leaving the outcome of the race to be determined on foot. Lessing, tagged during the final transition for a loose helmet strap,  would think about the 20 second price well after the run was over.  
    A wired McCormack set the pace for the run then pumped through the final kilometer, leaving Carter and Lessing behind and battling in tandem for second place. McCormack's 29:32 run brought him back to the Esplanade Park finish line in 1:48:29, 12 seconds ahead of Carter and 37 before Lessing.

Top American pros
    Barb Lindquist and Jennifer Gutierrez were second and third after the bike, but neither had the legs to keep pace with the Australians. Gutierrez ultimately claimed the top American spot in 2:03:14--good for 13th--four seconds ahead of Lindquist. Jill Newman crossed the line 20 seconds later.
   Alec Rukosuev was the top American man at 1:52:19, good for 25th. Wes Hobson and Marcel Vifian finished 30th and 37th.

Chris McCormick raced with animal intensity and national pride in his Championship quest.


McCormack and Carter eye eachother on the bike.

Chris McCormack eyes Hamish Carter down St. Georges Terrace in downtown Perth.


Michellie Jones put up a brave fight, but lacerated feet and a powerful Carney left her third.

Michellie Jones rests her injured feet.

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Team USA on the Western Australia cricket grounds

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US Age Group Dominance Meets its Match in Perth
The American age groupers, used to dominating the world in all but a handful of  categories, often found themselves shut out of the top spot in Perth.
    Notable for being the major bright spot for the US at Worlds, the American AGs were no match for the Australian home court and a hungry Aussie team. Although the Americans dominated the older age groups, winning 7 of the over-60 slots, only Peter Kain, 30-34, was able to stake claim to one of the younger categories--by one second. The Americans still placed in 14 of 24 age groups, but there was no question who owned top honors for the day.
    The Aussie athletes swam, biked and ran down the the field like dogs on a hunt, demonstrating that the Australian triathlon juggernaut is not content to confine itself to the pro ranks.
   The Australian AGs won a total of 9 age groups. Even more impressive, they placed in every age category in which they raced except one.
Rinsing off the Swan River

Rinsing off the Swan River.

Nichole Hackett races toward the future More to come
   The junior women swept the top four, reminding everyone that the spotlight shines temporarily at best, even for greats like Emma Carney, Jackie Gallagher, and Michellie Jones. The top junior woman, Nicole Hackett, finished 4:26 in front of the next country's top finisher, Delphine Pelletier of France. The top American junior, Sara Brinkley, finished her trip to Perth 14:31 out in 28th place.
   A tight junior men's race left the only top-finish junior/pro void for Australia. Bryce Quirk finished ninth, 2:34 behind winner Andry Glushchenko from the Ukraine. Sean Smith was the top American junior in 26th, 4:47 out.

Nichole Hackett leaves the transition on route to her junior women's victory.

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