Triathlon mixes it up to boost the excitement in Nanjing
The pedal power of Brittany Dutton helped the Australian surge to gold in the women’s individual triathlon in Nanjing, while British athlete Ben Dijkstra needed a photo finish to take gold in the men’s, and in the new mixed relay, the European teams dominated
17 August: Brittany Dutton takes first gold of Nanjing 2014
Brittany Dutton (AUS) was first across the finish line in the women’s triathlon, which took place at Lake Xuanwu. She dominated the event in a way rarely seen in a sprint triathlon, pulling away from the pack at the beginning of the cycle.
“Throughout the cycling I could see that I could probably break away, so I tried and it worked,” said Dutton afterwards. “I decided to hold my lead and it worked.”
Dutton came into the second transition 30 seconds in front of the chasing group and increased her lead slightly during the run to cross the finish line in 59 minutes and 56 seconds.
It was an impressive performance by Dutton, who saw off the challenge of running specialist Stephanie Jenks (USA). The American, who turned 17 on the day, said the silver medal was the ideal way to mark the occasion. “I had confidence in myself that I could do well. It’s so great. It’s a great birthday present too.”
Emilie Morier (FRA) took bronze in a time of 1:00.55. “I’m so happy! I had a great race, it was awesome. I’m exploding inside!” she exclaimed.
18 August: Photo finish for Ben Dijsktra
The two men each finished the race in 54 minutes and 43 seconds. Emil Deleuran Hansen (DEN) took bronze another six seconds back while Peer Sonksen (GER) just missed out on the podium, finishing 14 seconds behind the winner.
In contrast to the women’s race the day before, the men’s event produced a 14-strong breakaway during the cycle.
The gaps quickly got bigger but four athletes remained together after the first lap. Hoy and Dijkstra then moved clear of the rest of the group on the last lap.
Rain started falling at the beginning of the bike. In the difficult conditions two members of the breakaway suffered from bad falls on the third lap.
In conditions made challenging by the rain, two members of the breakaway, Diego Alejandro Lopez Acosta (MEX) and Philip Howarth (AUT), fell on the third lap but bravely got back in the saddle, but by this time their medal hopes had gone. Meanwhile, the fall seemed to have made the other competitors more cautious going through into the transition zone on the fourth and final lap.
“It was quite tense but I’m glad it went this way in the end,” said Dijkstra. “It was such a good race and Danny’s such a good athlete. I’m really pleased with the result and that I’ve got this gold medal now.”
Hansen’s bronze medal was beyond his expectations. “It’s just amazing. I never hoped to heaven to do this. I’d thought about a top 10 finish so this is just amazing.”
21 August: Europeans rule the mixed relays
Europe I launched a second-half comeback to take gold in the mixed triathlon relay in Nanjing. Ben Dijkstra (GBR) took the last leg at Lake Xuanwu and brought the team home for gold and his second title at the 2014 Youth Olympic Games. His team finished in a time of 1:22.17. Europe 3 took silver, with their last competitor Bence Lehmann (HUN) finishing 13 seconds behind Dijkstra.
The only Oceania team in the competition broke apart the field at the beginning of the competition and despite being caught by the Europeans they held on for third place, 53 seconds behind the winners.
“Relays are really unpredictable,” said Dijkstra. “Oceania were well in front after the first exchange. I think they had 49 seconds [lead] on our team at one point. But we managed to close the gap thanks to Emil Deleuran Hansen (DEN) and Emilie Morier (FRA), so it’s awesome.”
The Europe 1 team captain, Kristin Ranwig (GER), joined Dijkstra on the top of the podium. Usually competitors from four nations compete against each other but the members of Europe 1 showed great team spirit and even painted each other’s flags on their arms.
“The flags are there to give us strength,” explained Morier. “I saw the flags of the other countries and I accelerated.”
Giulio Soldati (ITA), who raced the second leg for Europe 3, became the second triathlete to celebrate their 17th birthday in Nanjing with a silver medal. “It’s great, but during the race I forgot it was my birthday,” he admitted. “I remembered after the race. A silver medal is perfect.”
Competing for Oceania 1, Brittany Dutton (AUS), who had dominated in the individual women’s competition, set the tempo in the first leg, surging ahead of all her fellow cyclists.
Jack Van Stekelenburg (AUS) extended their lead even further during the second leg. But the gap was reduced during the third leg as Europe 4, 3 and 1 pushed their way back to the front.
Elizabeth Stannard (NZL) got a second wind to finish her leg in third place, but with a 33-second gap to the lead group, her team-mate Daniel Hoy had too much ground to make up.
“I was alone [behind the first two] from the swim. I think they grouped up on the bike and disappeared. I don’t think I made up the gap on the run. My legs weren’t working at all for the first kilometre,” reflected Hoy, who added a bronze medal to the silver he picked up in the individual competition.
Team Europe 4, made up of Albert Kjaer Pedersen (DEN), Miguel Cassiano (POR), Amber Rombaut (BEL) and Omri Bahat (ISR) finished in fourth.