The Australian team thrilled the hometown crowd with a dominating win in the always exciting Mixed Team Relay at the Commonwealth Games.
April 7, 2018 | NEWS|
Not that he needed it, but when Ashleigh Gentle delivered a 42-second lead to Jacob Birtwhistle as he started the final leg, the Mixed Team Relay was pretty much decided. Even the great Alistair Brownlee couldn't make up that kind of margin on the individual men's silver medalist, who delivered the gold medal to Australia.
The always exciting mixed team relay lived up to that blling right from the gun as Vicky Holland (ENG) and Gillian Backhouse (AUS) gunned it off the pontoon and opened up a five second gap on Joanna Brown (CAN), Non Stanford (WAL) and Nicole Van Der Kaay (NZL) out of the water. Holland and Backhouse opened up more time on the chasing trio through the 7 km bike, hitting the 1.5 km run almost 30 seconds up. Stanford and Van Der Kaay dropped a tired looking Brown (who obviously gave it all to take the bronze in the individual race two days ago) and managed to make up a bit of time, but were still about 25 seconds back at the high-five relay exchange.
Holland's huge run that got her clear of Backhouse put Jonathan Brownlee (ENG) in the lead, but a spirited Matt Hauser (AUS), last year's junior world champ, managed to get on Brownee's feet diving into the water and stayed right there through the swim. Tyler Mislawchuck (CAN) had an amazing swim to get himself back up to Ryan Sissons (NZL) and Iesyn Harrett (WAL). Hauser and Brownlee maintained their lead through the bike and run, while Sissons, who rode in his running shoes, used the fact that he didn't have to change from cycling shoes to running shoes as a chance to break away from the Canadian and Welshman. Hauser tagged off just ahead of Brownlee, the two ahead of Sissons by 56 seconds and another 11 seconds up on Canada and Wales.
Ashleigh Gentle (AUS) found herself trying to keep up with Thursday's swim leader, Jessica Learmonth, in the water, but the Brit was able to open up a gap of 15 seconds on the Australian. Andrea Hewitt (NZL) was next out of the water, 1:11 down, with Desirae Ridenour (CAN) and Olivia Mathias 1:24 behind. Bernuda's third leg was done by the individual gold medalist Flora Duffy, but she was just entering the water as Learmonth was coming out. On the bike Learmonth was eventually caught by Gentle, while Ridenour had a big ride to get herself up to Hewitt's wheel and then gapping the Kiwi heading into T2 by seven seconds, but she was still 1:20 behind Gentle and Learmonth starting the run. Gentle, a much faster runner than the former UK national team swimmer, opened up a big gap as she tagged off to super-runner Jacob Birtwhistle. Alistair Brownlee (ENG) started the final leg 42 seconds down and now had to worry about the Kiwis (yes, Hewitt managed to get passed Ridenour) and Canadians who were 1:39 and 1:44 down. Duffy managed to work Bermuda back into the mix, tagging just behind Wales.
Brownlee, who led the way out of the water in Thursday's individual race, made up nine seconds of the gap in the swim and started the chase. Tayler Reid (NZL) was next out onto the bike course at 1:27, with Canada's Matt Sharpe in fourth at 1:42. Brownlee continued to gain time, entering T2 25 seconds down, but with his questionable calf, never looked like he was in a position to make up that sort of time on the speedy Birtwhistle, who is a rocket on the run. Reid got the Kiwis into T2 at 1:40 down with Sharpe another 10 seconds down.
Birtwhistle was untouchable on the run, getting to enjoy an easy run across the line. Brownlee kept his calf together to easily stay in the silver medal position, while Reid was up to the task of holding off Sharpe to give the Kiwis the bronze by seven seconds. Tyler Butterfield had a solid final leg to put Bermuda into fifth (helps when you have Flora Duffy to move you back into the mix, doesn't it?)