03/08/2019 | News release | Distributed by Public on 03/08/2019 11:44
By Karen Price | March 08, 2019, 10:47 a.m. (ET)
Katie Zaferes celebrates after crossing the finish line at the ITU World Triathlon Series on March 3, 2019 in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates.
Two days after being named USA Triathlon's women's Olympic/ITU Triathlete of the Year for the second year in a row, Katie Zaferes kicked off the 2019 season with a win at the ITU World Triathlon Series opener in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates.
The 29-year-old Olympian from Santa Cruz, California, by way of Hampstead, Maryland, was joined on the podium by her teammate Taylor Spivey, who claimed the silver medal to make it an even better season kickoff for the U.S.
The course consisted of a 750-meter swim, five laps on the 3.78-kilometer bike course and two laps on the 2.5-kilometer run course.
Zaferes was second in the Abu Dhabi race last year but this year propelled herself to the victory with a strong performance on the run. She pushed ahead within the first kilometer and finished with a nearly 30-second lead over Spivey. Zaferes finished in 55:31 followed by Spivey with a time of 55:57. Great Britain's Jessica Learmonth was third with a time of 56:06 to prevent a U.S. podium sweep. Taylor Knibb finished fourth, just behind Learmonth in 56:09.
Zaferes came into the weekend at the top of the world standings. She medaled in six of eight WTS events last season and capped things off by winning bronze at the ITU World Triathlon Grand Final and a silver in the overall WTS standings.
Eli Hemming was the top U.S. finisher in the men's race, finishing 13th. Up next in Abu Dhabi is the mixed team relay on Saturday. The U.S. is seeded No. 2 behind Australia in the event, which will make its Olympic debut in 2020 in Tokyo.