On Feburary 17 of this year, local triathlete Sherri Smith made the following entry in her personal journal:
"My plans are to win the world championships for my age group (if not for the women's division). I train every day with this in mind."
The multi-talented 28-year-old Sault woman was talking about the 2004 Triathlon World Championships in Madeira/Funchal, Portugal.
Today in Portugal, Smith accomplished both her goals in the Olympic-distance age-group race.
Smith's combined time of 2:19:19 not only won the gold medal in her 25-29 age group, but also the overall women's divison title.
Fastest swim-to-bike transition
Sherri was in seventh place coming out of the 1.5-kilometre swim portion of the race, with a time of 22:57.
She ranked sixth in the 40km bike leg, completing it in 1:18:46.
And she placed third in her strongest event, the 10km run, at 32:52.
Triathlon races can be won or lost during the critical transitions between events.
Today, Smith had the fastest swim-to-bike transition of her age group, timed at 2:49.
Her bike-to-run transition was the twelfth fastest, in 1:58.
Inspired by Dr. Hui Lee
Here's another entry from Sherri's journal, this one from just last week:
"Next Saturday morning in Madiera, Portugal, when the race gun goes off, I will be carrying with me a heart that is stronger than this body. I will be carrying a mental picture of training partners, family, and friends back in Sault Ste. Marie. I will be carrying the overwhelming spirit of Hui Lee. I will carry with me years of hard work and determination. I will carry with me the lyrics of a song that inspires me. I will carry with me a destiny that has not chosen me but I it. I will carry with me all of this and it will not weigh me down but rather lift me higher."
As frosting on the cake of Smith's gold medal, the Sault's Eric Piscopo was also in Portugal today, placing 14th in the men's 50-54 age group with a time of 2:27:56.
To see where Sherri and Eric raced today, please click here.
A short history of Sherri
Sherri Smith became a Canadian champion five years ago, winning the women's 5,000 metres at the 1999 Canadian Track and Field Championships.
Also that year, Smith placed sixth in the U.S. NCAA Championships, in the 10,000 metres.
In 2002, the same year Smith first tried her hand at triathlon, she managed to finish eighth at the World Triathlon Championships in Mexico.
Last year, she placed fourth in the Subaru Challenge Triathlon Series.
Born in Sault Ste. Marie on February 19, 1976, Smith was considered a middle-of-the-pack runner when she started competing in elementary-school cross-country events.
Attended U.S. university on full scholarship
By the time she finished secondary school, however, she was no long a mediocre athlete.
In fact, she graduated with a full scholarship to Baylor University in Waco, Texas.
There, Smith achieved a Masters degree and no less than three Big 12 Athletic Conference titles, in the 5,000m, 10,000m and cross-country events.
During her senior year at Baylor, she finished either first or second in every race she entered.
Organizing triathlon on St. Joseph island
In recent months, Smith has been busy launching a new Sault Ste. Marie Sports Council.
Sports Council background
She's also been the driving force behind the First Annual St. Joseph Island Triathlon, scheduled for August 14, 2004.
That event will also include a duathlon and a Kids of Steel triathlon.
For more information, please click here.
We need your help in spotting Sherri in this Big Picture of the Canadian triathlon team taken this week during the Parade of Nations in Madeira.
Is she hiding behind a camera?
Or she lurking somewhere in the middle of the pack?
Use your browser's scroll buttons to view the entire image, and if you spot Sherri let us know using SooToday.com's News Response feature.