Gold medal

Bárbara Riveros becomes first Chilean world champion in triathlon

The 24-year-old from Santiago, currently ranked world number one, won the title after a gutsy performance in Switzerland. Up next: the 2012 Olympic Games.

Thursday, August 25, 2011  
Bárbara Riveros in the cycling leg of the triathlon. (Photo: jandercito/Flickr) Bárbara Riveros in the cycling leg of the triathlon. (Photo: jandercito/Flickr)

Chilean athlete Bárbara Riveros has added to her run of success this European summer, taking a gold medal at the ITU (International Triathlon Union) Sprint Distance Triathlon World Championships in Lausanne, Switzerland.

Riveros is the first ever Chilean to claim a triathlon world title. The only other Chilean to even medal in the difficult discipline was Cristián Bustos, who won a silver medal at the Ironman World Championship in Hawaii in 1992.

In an exciting finish, Riveros entered the home stretch in fifth position but with a firm stride, and managed to overtake her rivals, leapfrogging into first place where she remained until the final ribbon.

The Chilean athlete managed to edge out Australian Emma Jackson (silver) and New Zealander Andrea Hewitt (bronze). Also making up the top five were Helen Jenkins from England and Australia's Ashleigh Gentle, some of the biggest names on the international triathlon circuit.

The win is an excellent boost for Riveros as she prepares for next year's Olympic Games in London, which her gold medal automatically qualifies her for. The Chilean athlete is expecting to enter the tournament in peak condition with the full respect of her international competitors.

“I took it all easy,” Riveros told Radio Cooperativa. “I have always said that I am very young and that the process [of my career] is very important. If I can win an Olympic medal for my country that would be perfect but I am committed to following the process and I don't want to rush it.”

The sprint race in Switzerland was made up of a 2,460 ft (750m) swim, a 12.4 mile (20 km) cycle and a 3.1 mile (5 km) run.

Riveros reached the number one spot in the world rankings on July 17 this year after finishing fifth at a competition in Germany.