To pick a domestique or not
Written by: Sal Farruggia
Date: Fri Aug 17 2012
Things quickly become muddled when delving into the intentions of British selectors. The GBR Congress states that triathlon is an individual sport. Furthermore Great Britain has refrained from using the term ‘domestique’ when describing the criteria for a discretionary selection. This left more than a few fans and athletes confused when Lucy Hall, far and away the top ITU swimmer, and Stuart Hayes, a reputation as a very strong cyclist, were chosen to compete over several higher ranked athletes.
As expected Lucy Hall led the swim and had a minute advantage over the main pack. And odd collection of strong swimmers did not get organized on the bike and were reeled in by the main group. This scenario played out to no advantage for favorite Helen Jenkins who was a minute behind Hall in the swim. While the British federation never defined the role of Lucy Hall, her presence did not appear to assist Helen Jenkins, nor was Hall ever considered to be a threat to finish in the top half of the field.
After being just slightly behind in a super fast swim Stuart Hayes worked himself up to the race lead with about 30 kilometers of biking remaining. From that point on he planted himself at the front of the group, kept the pace high, and only pulled off on a few rare occasions. The driving pace discouraged others from making breakaway attempts and kept the leaders away from the chasing pack. While need for Hayes to lead the bike can be argued and dissected from many angles, one cannot argue with the result. The Brownlees delivered gold and bronze medals to Great Britain.
There was much ado about Triathlon Australia’s selection process. The extremely rigorous automatic qualification process almost always results in a discretionary selection for each position. The Australian selectors had a wealth of female talent and although it was hard for them to make a ‘wrong’ choice, choosing the ‘most correct’ choice proved to be extremely difficult. In the end they went with 2008 Bronze medalist Emma Moffatt, Sydney WTS winner Erin Densham and young star Emma Jackson. This left 2008 Gold Medalist Emma Snowsill off the team and shocked many triathlon insiders. At the Olympics Densham would go on to win the bronze medal while Moffatt fell victim to an unforgivably slick corner. While Snowsill was careful never to attack the merits of her countrywomen, it was thought by the masses that Emma Jackson was the least qualified on the team. Jackson performed admirably at London finishing 8th. It is impossible to forecast where Snowsill would have finished had she competed.
The biggest name in triathlon made major news when Chris McCormack announced he would attempt to qualify for the 2012 Olympics and forgo defending his Kona Championship. While Australia usually has an excess of talent, the only obviously decision this Olympic cycle was the pre-selected Brad Kahlefeldt. While Macca had on several occasions been the top Australian finisher at major races, he never could track the top 15. In the end the selectors went with Courtney Atkinson and Brendan Sexton. Atkinson and Sexton would go on to finish 18th & 35th and Macca has happily returned to long distance racing.
Tony Moulai is the 36 year old veteran valiantly fighting off the twilight of his career. Vincent Luis is the future star that defeated Jonathan Brownlee at the 2008 Junior Championships. Problem for Luis is he has been injured in the early months of 2012 and Moulai is still routinely finishing in the top 20 at the most competitive races. Both were ranked high enough to earn a third French Olympic spot. With the future in mind the French selectors elected Luis. At just age 23 Vincent Luis went on to finish 11th at the Olympics.
As expected, Alistair Brownlee won gold, Javier Gomez took silver and Jonathan Brownlee took bronze at the 2012 Olympic Men’s Triathlon in London; USA’s Hunter Kemper was 14th Manuel Huerta 50th. 8.07.12
Nicola Spirig won an electrifying photo finish by a tiny fraction of a second over fast-closing Lisa Norden to win the Olympic women’s triathlon in London; Erin Densham won bronze, Sarah Groff took 4th and home country favorite Helen Jenkins was 5th. 8.04.12