Australia claim mixed relay triathlon
Australia continued its dominance of the triathlon mixed team relay by adding the Commonwealth Games crown to last year’s world championship title at the Southport Broadwater Parklands on Saturday.
Australia made only one change from the world championship winning team with Gillian Backhouse replacing Charlotte McShane, and the Glasgow 2014 bronze medallists proved too strong for second placed England, who were defending their Glasgow 2014 title. New Zealand came third in the woman-man-woman-man relay race, which saw each athlete complete a 250m swim, 6.6km bike and 1.5km run.
Ashleigh Gentle helped lead her country to victory with a key performance in her leg of the Triathlon, making up a 15 second deficit on the bike leg before pulling away on the run to set up a dominant 52 second win over England.
"I can't thank the Gold Coast and Australia enough for the amazing support, getting behind us all the way,” she said.
“The messages and support we have been getting, even after Thursday is unbelievable.”
Just like nine months ago in Hamburg (world championships) Jake Birtwhistle had the honour of crossing the finish line in first place, in a combined time of 1:17.36, but it was Gentle's third leg battle with Jessica Learmonth which was the game changer.
Australia and England, through Matthew Hauser and Jonathan Brownlee, were level after the second leg, 56 seconds ahead of New Zealand in third, but the third leg swung gold in the host nation's favour.
Learmonth came out of the water 15 seconds ahead of Gentle but, after the Australian closed the gap on the bike, a stumble from Learmonth entering the bike-run transition gave Gentle the gap she needed to power away on the run.
Gentle handed over to Birtwhistle with a 39 second lead over Alistair Brownlee and the 23-year-old Tasmanian eventually stretched the lead to 52 seconds, with Tayler Reid coming in one minute further back in third.
The remaining positions were filled by Canada, Bermuda, Wales, Scotland and South Africa.
"With the mixed team relay now on the Olympic program, Tokyo 2020 is looking very good for Australia," Backhouse said.