LOOKING FOR MORE IN 2020
After making it to the Olympics four years ahead of schedule, Amelie Kretz has the 2020 Games in her sights. We catch up with the Quebec star as she makes her run for top finish in Tokyo.
Annie Blanchard clearly remembers the day her daughter came home from school with the picture she had drawn. The grade one class was told to draw a picture of what they wanted to do later in life. Amelie Kretz drew five interconnected rings. Even at that age, she knew she wanted to compete at the Olympics.
Blanchard and her husband, Patrice Kretz, would find themselves driving young Amelie from sport to sport as she grew up. There was mountain bike racing, ski racing, AA level soccer, golf and hockey. When she was eight, Patrice and Blanchard took Amelie to a triathlon. The next summer she did another – from that point on “she was hooked,” Annie remembers.
It would be a tough dinner table, hanging out with the Kretz family. Once Amelie started doing the sport, Patrice decided he’d add running to the swimming and biking he was already doing. Over the years, he’s won his age group at Ironman races in Canada, Florida and Brazil. He’s finished on the podium at the Ironman World Championship in Kona, too. Blanchard stuck to running. Four years ago, Amelie challenged her to take on a marathon. She’s done seven since then, qualifying for the Boston Marathon three years in a row. She has raced it twice and has already qualified for next year’s race.
Growing up in Sainte-Thérèse, Que., Amelie Kretz quickly became part of the Trianord Triathlon Club. Under Kyla Rollinson’s guidance, she steadily moved through the ranks, competing on the Quebec
“I HAD MY BEST PERFORMANCES UNDER JAMIE TURNER, AND I REALLY LIKE THE ENVIRONMENT WITH ALL THE HIGHPERFORMANCE GIRLS.”
Cup circuit until she was 15, when she turned her sights on the national junior series. In her last year as a junior, she won every single race in the national junior series, the North American junior championships and finished sixth at the world championships. A year later, Kretz competed in, and won, her first World Cup race in Edmonton. She took the U23 and elite national championship.
In 2015, officials from Triathlon Canada sat down with Kretz and encouraged her to start working with Jamie Turner, who, at that time, was the national team coach. Kretz joined Turner’s program with the Wollongong Wizards, training with the likes of Gwen Jorgensen. After initially thinking that she was aiming for the Tokyo games, her results started to give her hope that she might make the Canadian team that would compete in Rio. Making the team came down to the last possible qualifying opportunity. Kretz didn’t finish the first two WTS races of the 2016 season. In Abu Dhabi, she got caught in a crash. At the Gold Coast race, she was in the hunt for a top finish when, three km from the finish line, she collapsed from heat stroke.
“I went from feeling good to a wheel chair,” Kretz says.
This meant she had to finish in the top eight in Yokohama to be considered for the Rio team.
In the end, she did just that – her eighth-place finish in Japan made her one of eight members of Turner’s group who competed in Rio.
“I didn’t have a great race in Rio,” Kretz says. “I got hit by a car three weeks before the Games. I was quite lucky, and I only hurt my hand.”
The steep descent in Rio proved to be Kretz’s undoing – after a strong swim, she didn’t execute well on the downhill because of the crash and would eventually finish 34th. After the Olympics, during a training camp in Florida preparing for the world championships in Cozumel, Kretz had a freak fall while walking and dislocated her shoulder badly enough that she needed surgery.
In 2017, with Turner no longer involved in the Canadian program, Kretz started working with Rollinson once again. Recovering from the shoulder injury, Kretz looks back at 2017 as a “transition” year. She missed an automatic selection for the Commonwealth Games thanks to a transition time that was a second too slow at the ITU Triathlon Mixed Relay World Championship in Hamburg. At the end of the year, she decided she would return to Turner’s program.
“I’ve proved that Jamie’s program works for me,” she says. “I had my best performances under Jamie, and I really like the environment with all the high-performance girls.”
That was most certainly the case for her early season races. Kretz finished in the top 10 in her first two races of the year, world cup events in Mooloolaba, Australia (ninth) and New Plymouth, New Zealand (eighth) in March. She took 23rd at the WTS race in Yokohama in May and finished 17th at the Antwerp world cup race in Belgium a month later.
“I showed in my performances in the early season that I’m ready to get back on track,” Kretz says. “I’m excited to be back racing. I’m confident about my fitness and racing. I needed the break last year after the Olympics, but now I need to be back in the high-performance environment.”
July proved to be a tough month, though, with a 38th place finish at WTS Hamburg and a DNF in Edmonton, made all the more frustrating because leading into those races “training had been going really well and I’ve been healthy,” Kretz says.
She’s very much looking forward to being back in Canada through much of August – she’ll stay at home in Sainte-Thérèse to prepare for the national championships in Kelowna, then race in front of a hometown crowd at WTS Montreal.
It all bodes well as Kretz continues to put the pieces in place to help her both reach the start line in Tokyo and have a better finish than she did in Rio.
“For me to perform well I need to have consistent training,” she says. “That’s when I do my best.”
She’s enjoying that consistency now and regaining her confidence on the bike. She’s already made it to the Olympics, just as she said she would all those years ago in that grade one assignment, but Amelie Kretz is looking for more in 2020.
Courtesy Specialized, Dan Mathieu LEFT Amelie Kretz (far left) training in Wollongong, Australia with the Wizards
BELOW kretz at WTS Edmonton BOTTOM Kretz on the run at WTS Hamburg in Germany