Europe reigns supreme in triathlon mixed relay
A second-half fight-back secured gold and silver for Europe in the triathlon mixed relay at Nanjing 2014 on 21 August.
Ben Dijkstra (GBR) ran the final leg at the Xuanwu Lake Triathlon to clinch the gold medal for Europe 1, and second YOG title for himself.
The team finished with a total time of 1 hour, 22 minutes, 17 seconds. Europe 3 took silver, with Bence Lehmann (HUN) finishing 13 seconds behind Dijkstra.
The lone Oceania team established a healthy lead early on, and despite eventually being overahauled on the third leg, it held on for bronze, 53 seconds behind the winners.
“Relays are so unpredictable,” Dijkstra said. “Oceania had a good lead after the first [exchange]. I think it was 49 seconds [ahead of] our team at one point, and we managed to close that with Emil Deleuran Hansen (DEN) and Emilie Morier (FRA) so it was great stuff.”
Lead-off triathlete Kristin Ranwig (GER) joined Dijkstra on the top of the podium. The four nations are often fierce rivals but Europe 1 harnessed team spirit by painting the four flags on their arms.
“The flags are to make us stronger,” Morier said. “I saw the flags of the other countries and went fast, fast, fast.”
For Europe 3, the silver medal was an ideal 17th birthday present for Giulio Soldati (ITA), who completed the second leg. “It’s wonderful, but during the race I forgot that it was my birthday,” he said. “I only remembered after the race. A silver medal, it's perfect.”
Europe 3’s Sian Rainsley (GBR) says she felt a bit conflicted as her team-mate for the day Lehmann battled it out on the home straight with her compatriot Dijkstra.
“That was a bit difficult to be honest,” she said. “Obviously I want Great Britain to do well, but Bence is a team-mate. I wanted to support Dijkstra a bit, just like he supported me. It's really good we both got one-two anyway.”
Brittany Dutton (AUS) set the pace on the first leg for Oceania 1, quickly establishing a lead on the bike, which was extended by Jack Van Stekelenburg (AUS). But the lead disappeared on the third leg, as Europe 4, 3 and 1 fought back. Elizabeth Stannard (NZL) rallied to finish her leg in third, but at 33 seconds behind, there was just too much left to do for Daniel Hoy (NZL).
“I was on my own [behind the top two] from the swim. I think those two joined up on the bike and were out of sight. I don't think I made any time up in the run. My legs had nothing in that first kilometre,” said Hoy, who added a bronze medal to the silver he won in the individual race.