Orland Park, Illinois's Lukas Verzbicas won the junior triathlon world championship in Beijing on Sunday, powering to a decisive victory on the race's 5-kilometer final run and cementing himself as the best junior triathlete in the world. Verzbicas, 18, dedicated the title to training partner Kevin McDowell, last year's bronze medalist who withdrew from the competition after learning that he he had Hodgkin’s lymphoma in March. "I had him in my mind the whole race. I knew I was doing it for him," Verzbicas told the Associated Press. Verzbicas stayed with the leading groups after the 750-meter swim and 20-kilometer bike segments, then opened up a 33-second gap on the run. Also a world-class junior runner, Verzbicas became the fifth-ever U.S. high schooler to break four minutes in the mile earlier this summer. He will compete as a freshman on the University of Oregon's cross country team this fall. Verzbicas emigrated from Lithuania at age 9 and continues to weigh his options as a runner and a triathlete. “I have a better chance to make the Olympics in triathlon than I do in track and field, at least for 2012," he told Running Times.
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