Commonwealth Games 2014: Alistair completes set of golds by strolling to win in Brownlees’ triathlon duel
England's Jodie Stimpson won the women’s race in the morning
Thursday 24 July 2014
In the end, after 108 minutes of swimming, biking and running in the 86-degree Lanarkshire heat, it turned out to be not so much a walk as an afternoon stroll in Strathclyde Country Park for Alistair Brownlee.
The final piece of championship gold was already effectively in the bag for the Olympic, world and European triathlon champion as he entered the home straight. The Yorkshireman could afford to slow to a trot and scoop up a flag of St George before crossing the line to add another gold medal to his Fort Knox collection.
Steve Ovett tried something similar at the end of a 5,000m race at Crystal Palace in 1980. He raised his arms in celebration and leaned back – only for the Irishman John Treacy to pip him the line. Thirty four years on, it was just as well for Brownlee that his little brother was not quite within striking range.
Alistair and Jonny had dropped the rest of the 47-man field on the fourth of five cycling laps, cracking the brave challenge of the 20-year-old Scot Marc Austin. Then, on the opening lap of the 10km run, Alistair started to pull clear from his brother.
There was to be no family snapshot of the Brownlee boys holding hands and crossing the line together, like Dick Beardsley and Inge Simonsen in the inaugural London Marathon of 1981. “I thought about it,” Alistair confessed later, “but we’d get told off an awful lot if we crossed the line together, so I decided not to.”
A dead heat might still have been possible had Alistair lingered much longer in the home straight. As it was, he crossed the line eleven seconds ahead of Jonny in 1 hour 48 minutes 33 seconds, with South African Richard Murray taking bronze.
It was a one-two for the Brownlees and a second triathlon gold of the day for England, Jodie Stimpson having won the women’s race in the morning.
“I’ll probably only win a Commonwealth title once in my life, so I might as well enjoy it,” Alistair replied when asked about his sedentary finish
The 26-year-old looked remarkably fresh after 1,500m of swimming, 40km of cycling and 10km of running in oppressive heat. Fresh enough, perhaps, to fill the gap in the 10,000m left by Mo Farah’s withdrawal from the England team, someone suggested. “I’m not as fresh as I look,” Alistair replied. “That was a hard race. I’m not good to jump on the track and do any race there.”
Jodie Stimpson on her way to winning gold in the triathlon (Getty Images)
Which is something of a pity. The first two places in the last Commonwealth Games 10,000m final on Scottish soil, in Edinburgh in 1986, were filled by members of the Brownlees’ Yorkshire running club, Bingley Harriers: Jon Solly and Stevie Binns.
Still, the Brownlees have the triathlon relay to come on Saturday. And Alistair was quick to clarify a flippant suggestion that he might retire from triathlon, having won every major title now. “I don’t see I’ll be retiring any time soon,” he said. “Maybe in another four years.”
A lesser soul than Stimpson might have considered moving on after failing to gain selection for London 2012. Instead, the 25-year-old from the West Midlands swallowed the bitter disappointment, dusted herself down and came back a better triathlete.
The result was clear to see as she kicked clear from Kirsten Sweetland of Canada to win the women’s race by five seconds in 1:58:56, with her England team-mate Vicky Holland taking bronze.
“Obviously I was devastated to miss a home Olympics,” Stimpson reflected, “but that gave me the kick up the backside that I needed.”
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