Community Clubs Elite Amateur Sport Triathlon

City’s top triathlete seeks even greater heights next season

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By Dan Plouffe, originally published Jan. 20 in West Carleton Review

She’s now the city’s top triathlete following the Ottawa Sports Awards dinner on Wednesday, Jan. 19 at Algonquin College, and come next year’s banquet Joanna Brown of Carp may very well find herself in contention for the overall female athlete-of-the-year prize.

It’s been a swift ride to the top for the 18-year-old reigning world junior bronze medallist, although the Sports Awards recognition allowed her to pause for a moment and soak in what she achieved in the past year.

“It was pretty cool to get,” says Brown, noting fellow Bytown Storm teammate Matt Vierula was last year’s triathlon recipient. “It’s nice to keep the receiving of the award within our club.”

Brown’s remarkable 2010 season started with a bang as she captured the Pan American junior title in Mexico, which helped set the stage and build up confidence for the rest of the year.

Brown flew to a national junior championship and even won a junior series event in Quebec where she missed a turn and had to run an extra kilometer.

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The successful run continued at the world junior championships in Hungary, where she became just the third Canadian to ever reach the podium at that event.

“I really didn’t know what to expect going into the race, but the outcome was great obviously,” Brown recounts. “I really got to show how hard I had worked and how committed I was to the sport. It was really cool.”

Brown enjoyed experiencing the different cultures on her first trip to Europe, as well as meeting new people and “seeing some of the faces I’m going to be racing against for the next 10 years.”

“It was a little look into my future,” explains Brown, who speaks with no doubt in her mind about what lies ahead. “I’m going to be representing Canada for sure at the Olympics.”

Brown will soon be graduating from All Saints Catholic High School after taking a break last spring semester to train full-time for her sport. That’s a plan she intends to follow this springtime as well before beginning university studies next fall in either biomedical sciences or human kinetics.

“(School) has more of an effect on me than I even know – I’ll just be tired or worn out and it won’t necessarily be from training, it’ll be stress from school and trying to get things done,” notes Brown, who plans to stay in Ottawa and study at Carleton or Ottawa U for at least one more year. “I rely so much on my mom and my dad and the support team that I have here to keep me going.”

It’s full steam ahead for Brown as she begins to prepare herself for the transition that will come after this season – as a senior athlete, the triathlon distance will double in each segment to the standard Olympic length from its current 750-meter swim, 20 km bike and 5 km run.

But she definitely recognizes the importance of the 2010 season in allowing her to gain experience and build confidence towards her future goals, and to work out the difficulties she faces in training.

“I got to see how far I could actually go,” recounts Brown, who’s looking forward to competing in a few World Cup races come the springtime and excelling once again in her last year as a junior-aged athlete. “I’ve got a huge season ahead. It’s going to be exciting.”

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