A perfectly executed race gives Henri Schoeman gold at the Commonwealth Games
South African Henri Schoeman added one more medal to his tally claiming the victory at the 2018 Gold Coast Commonwealth Games. In one of the best runs of the afternoon in the Southport Broadwater Parklands, Aussie Jacob Birthwhistle claimed silver, the first medal for the home country on these Games, while Scottish athlete Marc Austin claimed bronze.
After the Women enjoyed an amazing sun for their race, the men had to take the stage under a fierce storm that made the athletes shiver while standing on the pontoon. But it looked like both Brownlee brothers, Jonathan and Alistair, liked it, as Alistair took the lead from the first strokes and during most of the 750m swim on the choppy waters of the Gold Coast. Only Tayler Reid (NZL) was able to stand at his side, to go to the first transition together.
On their bikes, both were almost immediately chased by the younger Brownlee, Jonny, along with Henri Schoeman, Matthew Hauser and Marc Austin, who managed to make it to the lead pack at the beginning of the bike leg and continued like that for the 20km ride. And off they went, maintaining a 25 seconds gap even though the visible efforts of both brothers for organizing the group to try to increase the time difference.
Behind them, a large group including Richard Murray (RSA), Ryan Sissons (NZL), Birthwhistle, Tyler Mislawchuk (CAN) and Matthew Sharpe (CAN) worked hard to avoid having a big gap before the end of the bike course, tricky under the rainy conditions with some 180 degree turns. By the time they all got to the second transition, the gap was still manageable for their aspirations, and Sissons, Sharpe, Birthwhistle and Murray went for it trying to chase down the leaders.
In the meantime, in the lead group things changed every kilometer. Henri put the extra gear on right after transition and opened a small gap since the beginning. Behind them, what started as a five men group ended up with Jonny Brownlee and Marc Austin keeping up the pace while Alistair, Reid and Hauser were slowly being chased by the pursuers.
With 2.5km to go, Alistair Brownlee was in an unusual 8th place, 43 seconds behind, while Reid looked desperately behind him. He had a reason to do it. Jacob Birthwhistle was proving that he is one of the fastest runners in the field, passing athletes meter by meter. His colossal effort paid off not only with the fastest run split of the day (14.36 for the 5km) but also with a silver medal, the first for the home country of the Commonwealth Games.
He couldn’t beat Schoeman, bronze in Rio 2016 Olympics and also bronze in the Team competition in Glasgow 2014, who executed the perfect race to prove that he is going to be one of the ones to beat this season. Schoeman, who also claimed gold in the first WTS of the season in Abu Dhabi, said: “I have no words. It was a tough race, the swim was rough, but it was so amazing to have run for my country.
“My legs were exhausted at the start but I gave it a surge and kept up the momentum, I just had to stay cool and save energy. I just kept thinking: ‘Don’t give up, anything can happen’. That last 50 metres felt amazing”, he said.
“I am super happy to be in second place. It would have been nice to to go one better, but I just couldn’t run it down. I left it all to the run, and I put everything into that. It’s amazing to be competing with such talented guys and I am so stoked with a silver medal”, said Birthwhistle after the race.
In third place, a plethoric Austin, who left the younger Brownlee behind in the final meters and pushed hard enough to keep another Aussie, Matt Hauser, in the fourth place. “My race today was pretty great, I knew that I really needed to work hard but also save my energy. Everything went according to plan and I knew that I couldn’t have given anything else”, said Austin, who also explained that his training “leading up to the Games has been perfect and I knew that if ever I was going to deliver my best performance, it was going to be today.”
Also sprinting finished Sissons, in fifth, with the second best run of the day, and to whom a few more meters would have allowed to be in the podium.
Glasgow 2014 bronze medallist, Murray, finished in 6th, while Jonathan Brownlee crossed the finish line in 7th and his older brother in 10th.“From start to finish I didn’t feel great, I had ups and downs”, explained a dissapointed Jonny Brownlee after finishing. “I dived in and felt pretty weak on the swim and I started riding and I found it really hard to catch up. Then I’m not really one of the strongest on the bike but I didn’t feel great today. I started running and I thought, ‘Oh dear, I’m in trouble here’, but I gave it everything, I ran as well as I could”, he said.
|Results: Elite Men|
Text: ITU Online Media
Images: Korupt Vision