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Former CU Buffs star Morgan Pearson finishes 42nd in Olympic men’s triathlon

15-second penalty pushes Pearson back in pack


Prior to taking off in the men’s triathlon at the Tokyo Olympics, former Colorado track standout Morgan Pearson said he simply wanted to turn in a race worthy of personal pride.

As it was his Olympics debut, there is no doubt it was a memorable experience for the former Buffaloes distance specialist. But, unfortunately for Pearson, some of those moments might be memorable for all the wrong reasons.

On Sunday evening — Monday morning in Tokyo — Pearson finished 42nd in the triathlon, fading behind the leading pace-setters during the swim and bike portions of the event, and then having to serve a penalty before attempting to make up ground in the run, his strongest event.

It remained a historical event for Team USA as Pearson’s teammate, Kevin McDowell, finished sixth. It was the top finish ever by a USA athlete in the men’s triathlon, topping Hunter Kemper’s seventh-place finish in the 2008 Games in Beijing.

Norway’s Kristian Blummenfelt ran away from the pack to claim the gold medal, finishing in 1 hour, 45 minutes, 4 seconds, followed by Great Britain’s Alex Yee. Hayden Wilde from New Zealand captured the bronze medal.

Pearson, who was a seven-time All-American in track and cross country at CU, was 23rd coming out of the 1.5-kilometer swim but, during the transition phase, he was assessed a 15-second penalty for improperly storing some of his equipment. That pause was served entering the run, and Pearson entered his strongest event well back of the pace in 46th-place.

Pearson finished in 1:52.05, which was 7:01 behind Blummenfelt. McDowell finished in 1:45.54, 50 seconds behind Blummenfelt. Pearson also will compete for the US in the Mixed Relay, which begins Friday.

“It was a tough day. That’s not what I wanted to do, but I’m glad I’m here, and I auto-qualified, so no one can take that away from me,” Pearson said. “I’m sure in a few days, a few weeks, I’ll be more excited about it. I know Kevin had a really good race, so that’s really exciting for him. I was taking the run easy because I know we have the Mixed Relay in a few days — and it’s the Olympics, I didn’t want to drop out, I wanted to finish.”

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