England wins gold as Mixed Relay debuts at Commonwealth Games
26 July 2014
In a somewhat unexpected finish, South Africa scored silver, while Australia ran across for bronze in the woman-man-woman-man relay race, which saw each athlete complete a 250m swim, 6km bike and 1.6km run.
“I definitely hope to see that in the Olympics,” South African relay anchor Richard Murray said. “I think it might be more exciting than the men’s race to be honest. It’s so high paced.”
Kirsten Sweetland pumped out a pace so fierce that it gave Canada the advantage after the first leg of the relay, touching off with Matt Sharpe for a small gap in the swim. But the formidable Jonathan Brownlee (ENG) shut that lead down straight away when he picked up his bike.
For the second Mixed Relay in a row, his role was pivotal in getting his team in an advantageous position. He broke away from Canada, New Zealand and Northern Ireland on the back end of the bike, but a scuffed up transition saw the quad of men leave T2 together. Brownlee’s mistake was just the oxygen his smouldering fire needed to scorch off the blue carpet in pursuit of gaining England a massive 16-second lead into the third leg.
However, his work was temporarily dismantled when New Zealand’s strong cyclist Nicky Samuels hammered up the hills to catch the individual gold medallist Jodie Stimpson. But Stimpson got her winning run speed going on the final discipline to tag off to teammate Alistair Brownlee with another lead.
From there, the dominant Alistair took over, leading throughout the three disciplines with apparent ease. The anchor for England, Alistair had time to slow to collect a few flags and join his teammates over the line as the first team to ever win a Commonwealth Games Mixed Relay gold medal.
Behind him, New Zealand’s Ryan Sissons, who was riding in second position, made a tactical decision to slow for Canada, South Africa and Australia on the 6km bike. The choice was one that took the team out of medal contention, as the talented Richard Murray (RSA) blasted off the bike and through the 1.6km run to earn South Africa silver. Australia’s Ryan Bailie battled with Andrew Yorke for the final medal position, but the team Down Under dug a little deeper for the bronze.
“Oh man, that was so nerve racking, it was so fun though,” said Sweetland. “We were so close, right in the mix, right to the very end. We almost put in more effort into this because you’re part of a team and you don’t want to let the team down.”
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2014 Glasgow Commonwealth Games