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TRIATHLON REVIEW: Glasgow gold sweep for England

England's (left to right) Jonathan Brownlee, Vicky Holland, Jodie Stimpson and Alistair Brownlee

England's (left to right) Jonathan Brownlee, Vicky Holland, Jodie Stimpson and Alistair Brownlee

England’s triathlon team went into the Commonwealth Games with expectations sky high yet still managed to exceed them.

England appeared nailed on for gold and silver in the men's individual race - Alistair Brownlee again pipped brother Jonny - and in the mixed relay.

But the women matched triathlon's most famous siblings, with Jodie Stimpson storming to gold and Vicky Holland winning a surprise bronze.

Alistair said: "It's been absolutely great. Team England came here as favourites for the relay and for some of the individual medals as well so it's fantastic that we actually managed to pull it off."

What certainly was a surprise was the weather, the individual races taking place under a blazing sun and with temperatures soaring towards 30 degrees.

Melting ice-creams and red faces dotted the grandstand as the women dived into Strathclyde Loch.

Stimpson went into the race as a narrow favourite but, with seven of the top 12 triathletes in the world in the field, everything was up for grabs.

The competition would have been even stronger but for untimely injuries to world champion Non Stanford and her Wales team-mate Helen Jenkins.

The race did not disappoint, with all the contenders starting the 10-kilometre run together.

Six women were still in the running for the medals with 2km to go before Stimpson made her move.

This time only Kirsten Sweetland of Canada and Holland could go with her, but Stimpson proved the strongest and dropped first Holland and then Sweetland before sprinting down the finish line with a look of elation on her face.

"I went in as number one but I didn't see myself going in as the favourite by far because that field was absolutely full of potential winners so I was ecstatic to come out on top," she said.

Stimpson was still beaming and lapping up congratulations when the men's race began a couple of hours later.

This was not expected to be as close as the women's and it certainly was not, with the Brownlees dominating from start to finish.

Despite being the fastest runners in the field, they enjoy making races as hard as possible and kept a breakaway going throughout the 40km bike.

The only man able to stay with them for any length of time was 20-year-old Scot Marc Austin, who paid for his efforts to such an extent that he eventually wobbled across the finish line in 22nd place, more than nine minutes down.

He was roared all the way round, while some of the biggest cheers were reserved for those who never had a chance of making it to the finish, including Kenyan Vincent Onyango, who was lapped on the swim while doing breaststroke.

At the front of the field, Jonny had hoped to get the better of Alistair for the first time on the biggest stage but it was the Olympic champion who dominated again.

He celebrated with surely the most casual finish in the whole of the Games, walking down the finishing straight waving England and Yorkshire flags and high-fiving fans before eventually strolling across the line.

Two days later the relay, in which two women and two men compete a mini-triathlon in turn, made its debut at a major Games and certainly strengthened its case for Olympic inclusion.

With four individual medallists and both champions, England were red-hot favourites, and they never looked in danger of blowing it.

Stimpson gave Alistair a nine-second lead going into the final leg and, as the battle turned tactical behind, he extended it to 49 seconds by the finish.

Jonny may still not have been able to beat his brother, but standing together on the top step of the podium was a good start.

"To be Commonwealth champion is something I've always wanted to do, and to finally get a gold medal at a major Games is definitely very satisfying," said the 24-year-old.

"We had a lot of pressure on us in the relay, we were the favourites, so to do it makes it even more special."

 

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