Tommy Zafares holds up the finish line after winning the Elite Sprint PATCO Premium Cup Race Sunday in Kelowna. He finished in 54:24.

Tommy Zafares holds up the finish line after winning the Elite Sprint PATCO Premium Cup Race Sunday in Kelowna. He finished in 54:24.

Champness wins

Despite the fire ban that has blanketed the Okanagan this summer, Nathan Champness has been on fire.

Despite the fire ban that has blanketed the Okanagan this summer, Nathan Champness has been on fire.

The Vernon product won his seventh event of the summer Sunday afternoon at the 32nd Pushor Mitchell Kelowna Apple Triathlon. He also has three other podium finishes.

“I had an excellent swim, leading my heat out of the water, I took advantage of the four repeats of the base of Knox Mountain to hammer out a lead on the bike,” said Champness.

Champness’s blistering time of two hours, one minute and 25 seconds was tops in the Olympic group of 338 athletes and thinks that familiarity was a benefactor.

“The event was well-run as always. I’ve done it five years in a row and the organizers consistently do a great job of managing the large numbers of athletes,” said Champness.

The Vernon Masters Swim Club finished third in the Olympic Team Relay event. They swam to a 2:39.00, just ahead of the Xray Sandwich team who crossed the finish line in 2:52.03, good enough for sixth.

Coldstream’s Peter Byrnes finished 24th in 1:09.45 during the sprint event.

Victoria’s Andrew McCartney was the top Canadian during the Elite Sprint PATCO Premium Cup Race. McCartney was in the medal mix through the swim and bike legs, but slipped to fifth spot during the run and finished at 55:17.

Tommy Zafares 28, of California, a retired Olympic trials swimmer, won the gold medal after crossing the finish line in 54:24.

“The course was great and really suits me,” said Zafares. “I knew there was lots of fast runners so I swam and biked as hard as I could to open up a gap on the run. There was lots of give and take but we worked well together in the pack.”

Paula Findlay won the silver medal at the women’s Elite Sprint PATCO Premium Cup Race in 59 minutes 52 seconds.

The Edmonton native was competing in her first race since sustaining a stress fracture back in March.

“I’m trying to work my way back up there. I know I have a lot of work to do. It just feels so good to be racing again. This (Kelowna) is my favourite place to race so I’m happy I was able to return here,” said Findlay.

Many of the best athletes on the planet will now head to Stockholm, Sweden for a World Triathlon Series race, Aug. 23-24, before the world descends in Edmonton for the TransCanada Corp. World Triathlon Grand Final, Aug. 26 to Sept. 1.