Cuba Hosts Historic Multisport Event
28 Jan, 2015
USA Triathlon Collegiate Recruitment Program athletes Renée Tomlin and Kirsten Kasper led the way for a group of nearly 30 American triathletes who competed in Havana, Cuba, over the weekend.
La Habana Triathlon featured U.S. athletes competing in Cuba for the first time since renewed diplomatic relations with the country were announced last month. It was also the first competition in Cuba that showcased U.S. triathlon talent at the elite and amateur athlete levels.
Tomlin (Ocean City, N.J.) posted the fastest time of the day for the women in the Habana CAMTRI Sprint Triathlon American Cup, clocking in at 1 hour, 4 minutes, 22 seconds on the 750-meter swim, 20-kilometer bike, 5-kilometer run course. Kasper (North Andover, Mass.) was 12 seconds back, clinching second place in 1:04:34. The pair are early in their professional triathlon careers and were collegiate runners before transitioning to triathlon with help from USA Triathlon's Collegiate Recruitment Program. More on the program is available at usatriathlon.org/crp.
"I am excited with the victory, and it sets the tone for 2015," Tomlin said in a post-race interview with ITU media. "This is a really special event, not just for triathlon but in general between Cuba and the United States, just to enhance neighborly relations. The timing is so perfect for us to come over, and it means a lot."
U.S. elites earned five top-10 finishes overall, with fellow collegiate recruits Nick Karwoski (Hollis, N.H.) and Robby Webster (Seattle, Wash.) finishing sixth and 10th in the men's elite race, and Rebeccah Wassner (New Paltz, N.Y.) picking up 10th in the women's race. Top elite finishers in the continental cup event earned points toward their ITU Points List rankings.
Twenty-seven American triathletes competed across three race distances in two days of weekend competition. Barry Siff, President of the USA Triathlon Board of Directors, began pursuing the necessary travel licensing after meeting the Cuban Triathlon Federation President at the annual Pan American Triathlon Congress in June. Siff received word that the license was approved in December, and USA Triathlon opened the opportunity to register for the races in Cuba to its annual membership. The age-group athlete spots made available on the sports-specific travel license were filled within 24 hours.
"It is tremendous. We are really excited. To speak to each one of our athletes this morning, you just saw on their faces and in their smiles that it was really about the experience," said Siff in an interview on Saturday. "It is great to see Renée and Kirsten finish one-two, but I think even they were talking more about their experiences around town, meeting people. It is really wonderful for everyone."
About USA Triathlon: USA Triathlon is proud to serve as the National Governing Body for triathlon, as well as duathlon, aquathlon, aquabike, winter triathlon, off-road triathlon and paratriathlon in the United States. Founded in 1982, USA Triathlon sanctions more than 4,300 races and connects with nearly 500,000 members each year, making it the largest multisport organization in the world. In addition to its work with athletes, coaches and race directors on the grassroots level, USA Triathlon provides leadership and support to elite athletes competing at international events, including International Triathlon Union (ITU) World Championships, Pan American Games and the Olympic and Paralympic Games. USA Triathlon is a proud member of the ITU and the United States Olympic Committee (USOC).