NEW PLYMOUTH, New Zealand (AP) — Five-time world triathlon champion and Olympic silver medalist Javier Gomez of Spain launched his bid to win selection for the 2020 Tokyo games with a fifth-placing in the ITU World Cup event in New Zealand on Sunday.
The race, third stop on the World Cup circuit, was Gomez's first for almost two years in the Olympic short format, after his recent focus on long distance racing.
At the end of the 750 meter ocean swim, 20 kilometer cycle and 5 kilometer run, Gomez — who looked lean and fit — came in only 13 seconds behind race winner Luke Williams of Australia. Justus Nieschlag of Germany was second five seconds behind Williams and a second ahead of New Zealand's Sam Ward.
"It was fun," Gomez said. "It was a really good course, especially on the bike.
"I really enjoyed it. I made a few mistakes ... lost a few seconds and started too hard on the first lap on the run and didn't have much left on the last lap.
"But it's okay. It's quite early for me in the season but it was a good racing experience for me and hopefully I'll get better for the next ones."
Gomez finished second at the 2012 London Olympics but missed the 2016 games with an elbow injury.
Angelica Olmo of Italy won the women's race from Jolanda Annen of Switzerland and Jaz Hedgeland of Austria.