Jenkins shows true grit after being forced to carry bike

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The Independent Online

Marc Jenkins finished last of 45 in yesterday's triathlon but raised some of the biggest cheers of the day for completing the swim-ride-run marathon at all.

Marc Jenkins finished last of 45 in yesterday's triathlon but raised some of the biggest cheers of the day for completing the swim-ride-run marathon at all.

The 28-year-old Welshman's bike was so badly damaged during an accidental collision on the 40km ride that Jenkins had to carry it and push it uphill for 2km until he reached the next "wheel stop" and could make a change.

The problem occurred, Jenkins said, when an unnamed competitor's quick-release lever - a protruding device that makes wheel changes quicker - took out six of the spokes on his back wheel.

The obvious course of action for most athletes would have been to withdraw. The field was streaming past. It was clear Jenkins would probably never even catch up, let alone win, if and when he even made it to the wheel stop, running in cycling shoes with a bike on his shoulder. Yet he refused to quit, saying afterwards that the Olympic arena had spurred him on.

"My initial thought was to stop right there, that I couldn't continue the race," he said. "Normally I would have just got off and gone home but this is the Olympics. Also I knew there was lots of wheel stops [ahead] and riders behind me when it happened.

"I thought I might be able to beat them but they passed me, so then it was just about finishing the race. I'm disappointed for myself, my family and my friends that have come all this way to see me," Jenkins added.

The race was won by New Zealand's Hamish Carter in 1hr 51min 7.73sec. His compatriot, Bevan Docherty, the reigning world champion, took silver, with Switzerland's Sven Riederer coming third.

Carter, Docherty and Riederer stayed together for most of the final leg of yesterday's event, the 10km run. During the last 3km, the New Zealanders pulled away, turning it into a straight Kiwi fight for gold. Docherty was 7.87sec behind Carter.

"I felt relatively in control throughout the race," Carter said. "I was definitely having a good day."

The Britons Andrew Johns and Tim Don finished 16th and 18th respectively, both of them three minutes off the winning pace. Jenkins was the last of the finishers over the line, in 2hr 5min 33.60sec. Four other starters, one each from Spain, Ukraine, Greece and Russia, withdrew after the 1.5km swim but before the end of the cycling.

Jenkins, who was only called into the British squad as a late replacement for an injured team-mate, was given a rousing reception from the large crowds packed around the finish line.

"I wasn't even thinking about the crowd," he said afterwards. "I just wanted to finish the race. It's the Olympics, it only happens every four years so I knew I had to finish it."

Explaining the accident, he said: "I'm very disappointed at the moment, really upset. Someone went into the back of my wheel and their quick-release took out five or six of my spokes.

"I couldn't even run with the bike at my side because the wheel wouldn't turn round so I had to put it on my shoulders. My legs are paying for it now.

"But I don't want to be an Olympic hero if it means coming last."

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