All dreams of a Brownlee brothers repeat of their 1-2 finish at the 2014 Commonwealth Games Triathlon were dashed as Henri Schoeman of South Africa held off a strong run by Jacob Birtwhistle of Australia to win the men’s title on the Gold Coast. Marc Austin of Scotland outsprinted Matthew Hauser of Australia by 2 seconds for the bronze, 6 seconds back of Birtwhistle.
Lacking the usual Brownlee energy, In a what seemed like a passing of the torch to a new generation, Jonathan Brownlee finished 7th, 38 seconds off the winner, and his brother, two-time Olympic champ Alistair, could only manage 10th place, 66 seconds off the pace.
In contrast to the high heat of the women’s contest, the men took off rainy, chilly weather more fitting for a teeth chattering English spring.
The race started like old times as Alistair and Jonathan led the pack in choppy waters with 8:48 and 8:51 swim splits, joined by Tayler Reid of New Zealand at 8:49 and Schoeman at 8:51. Charging out of T1, Alistair and Reid led the way followed closely by Jonathan, Schoeman, Matthew Hauser and Marc Austin with a 25 seconds gap on the chasers who included Richard Murray of South Africa, Ryan Sissons of New Zealand Birtwhistle, Tyler Mislawchuk and Matthew Sharpe of Canada.
Forced to play conservatively on the rain soaked twisty bike course, the leaders maintained their modest 25 seconds gap into T2. Starting the run, Schoeman took to the front and opened a small gap, followed by Jonny Brownlee and Austin, while Alistair, Reid and Hauser gradually fell off the pace.
Halfway through the 5km run, Alistair had fallen 43 seconds off the ;ace in 8th. Meanwhile, Birtwhistle was charging hard through the chasers, on his way to a race-best 14:36 mark and the silver medal position.
Birtwhistle could not catch Schoeman, the 2016 Olympic bronze medalist, who ran a 15:00 5k to finish in 52:31 with a 7 seconds margin over Birtwhistle and 13 seconds over Austin. Hauser took 4th, 2 seconds behind Austin and 3 seconds ahead of 5th place Ryan Sissons, who closed fast with a 2nd-best 14:50 run.
Schoeman, who proved he was in form with a win at WTS Abu Dhabi a month ago, told ITU media: “It was a tough race, the swim was rough, but it was so amazing to have run for my country. My legs were exhausted at the start but I gave it a surge and kept up the momentum, I just had to stay cool and save energy. I just kept thinking: ‘Don’t give up, anything can happen.' That last 50 meters felt amazing.”
“I am super happy to be in second place,” Birtwhistle told ITU media. “It would have been nice to go one better, but I just couldn’t run it down. I left it all to the run, and I put everything into that.”
Jonny Brownlee owned up to his disappointing finish. “From start to finish I didn’t feel great, I had ups and downs,” Jonny told ITU media. “ “I dived in and felt pretty weak on the swim and I started riding and I found it really hard to catch up. I didn’t feel great today. I started running and I thought, ‘Oh dear, I’m in trouble here.’”
Commonwealth Games Triathlon
Gold Coast, Australia
April 5, 2018
S 750m / B 20k / R 5k
Elite Men Results
1. Henri Schoeman (RSA) 52:31
2. Jacob Birtwhistle (AUS) 52:38
3. Marc Austin (Scotland) 52:44
4. Matthew Hauser (AUS) 52:46
5. Ryan Sissons (NZL) 52:49
6. Richard Murray (RSA) 53:04
7. Jonathan Brownlee (GBR) 53:09
8. Luke Willian (AUS) 53:33
9. Mathew Sharpe (CAN) 53:34
10. Alistair Brownlee (GBR) 53:37