Amelie Kretz

LOOK­ING FOR MORE IN 2020

Triathlon Magazine Canada - - FEATURES - BY KEVIN MACKIN­NON

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

Dan Mathieu

BE­LOW kretz at WTS Ed­mon­ton BOT­TOM Kretz on the run at WTS Ham­burg in Ger­many

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