Six years in the making: Ashleigh Gentle wins a WTS race.

It was a race that she almost didn't start thanks to a bug she picked up on the flight over to Montreal. In the end, though, Ashleigh Gentle had the race of her life.

| August 6, 2017 | PERSONALITY

Photo >Kevin Mackinnon

It was six years in the making, but finally Ashleigh Gentle got the win she'd been after for so long.

"To be honest I’m in a little bit of a state of shock, but obviously I’m really thrilled," she said after her win in Montreal today.

Turns out Gentle almost didn't compete in the race due to sickness.

"I was just planning on waking up this morning and making the call as to whether or not I would race this morning … I had a chat with my coach Jamie Turner and he said “I don’t care if you come second last as long as you do all the little things right, I’m going to be happy.” So I was focussed on doing all the processes right and not focussed on the outcome and it worked really well for me.

"I felt pretty run down coming into Montreal and then after the plane trip I started to get a sore throat and headaches and really swollen glands. I saw the ITU doctor yesterday and thought, well, I’ve come all this way, I’ll make the decision closer to the race and obviously I’m happy I did."

Gentle has often struggled with the swim at WTS races, but today she nailed both the swim and bike portions of the race.

"I’m not in the front pack very often. To be honest I didn’t know how I would feel on the run, so I had to position myself as best I could on the bike. We were all looking over our shoulder trying to figure out if she was going to attack, same with Taylor Knibb. I just tried to get through it, because I didn’t know how I was going to feel on the 10 km run." 

The run course was changed in Montreal this year, incorporating a hill that was also part of the bike course.

"I really liked it because we always have flat courses," Gentle said. "I really like more challenging run courses, so I was pretty happy to see that hill on the run."

When asked what she thought about finally breaking WTS defending champion Flora Duffy's winning streak, Gentle was quick to praise the Bermudan champion. 

"I’ve got utmost respect for her. She’s been in phenomenal form and I guess that makes the victory even sweeter, coming first with an athlete like that, and I say that with the utmost of respect."

For Gentle there was a lot of emotion around the win in Montreal.

"I’ve been doing this sport for a really long time. I did my first junior worlds when I was 16. I’m 26 now. I did my first world series in the London test event in 2011. I got ninth. Then a lot of ups and downs. Five second places and I’ve finally won one, six years later."

Gentle was also asked about the tragic loss of Australian triathlon legend Garth Prowd, a man she referred to as the "Godfather" of Australian Triathlon in a tweet earlier this week.

"For a lot of Australians he had a big role. He was the founder of USM Events and the Noosa Triathlon, which is an iconic race in Australia. I’ve been fortunate to win that race four times. It’s a race I hold close to my heart. It’s going to be sad to go back this year and not see his smiling face. I’ll be doing it this year for him … the legacy he left for Australian triathletes was massive."