Redemption for Gentle with relay gold
Posted on 04/25/20 7:43 PM
Ryan Birtwhistle, Ashleigh Gentle, Matt Hauser and Gillian Backhouse have won team triathlon gold.Redemption comes in many shapes and sizes, and for n triathlete Ashleigh Gentle, it came in the form of a gold medal slung around her neck.
The Gold Coast native was dejected after coming up short in the women’s triathlon on the opening day of the Commonwealth Games – the world No.3 less than satisfied with her fifth placing.
Given another shot at glory, Gentle didn’t disappoint.
Contesting the third leg of the mixed team relay, Gentle entered the water alongside Jess Learmonth – the Englishwoman who won what Gentle so wanted with silver in the women’s event.
Again she gave up plenty of ground on the swim, but this time Learmonth didn’t have the unstoppable Flora Duffy to help her increase her lead on the bike.
Down by 15 seconds coming out of the water, Gentle handed teammate Jake Birtwhistle a 39 second lead heading into the anchor leg.
With the chance to add team gold to individual silver, it was a margin Birtwhistle was never going to surrender.
Combining with Gillian Backhouse, Matt Hauser and Gentle, the ns ran out winners by 52 seconds over defending champions England, who again had the Brownlee brothers in their ranks.
“I can’t believe I’ve got a Commonwealth Games gold medal and to feel as though I gave so much to the team as well, it’s really satisfying,” Gentle said.
“I back myself time-trialling on the bike, and I knew I was a much better runner than I showed on Thursday.
“I just had to think, this is your thing, let’s just go, don’t look back – full gas for 1500m.”
It completed a magical Games debut for world No.11 Birtwhistle, a gold and silver a sign of things to come for the 23-year-old Tasmanian – the youngest man in the top 13 of the world rankings.
“My first Games, for it to be such a successful one is a great feeling,” Birtwhistle said.
“Looking forward … there’s Luke (Willian) and Matt (Hauser) who are even younger, it puts triathlon in in a great position to be a force to be reckoned with.
“We’re here and we mean business, we’re coming into our peaks, it’s all up from here.”
Time will tell if the Games represent a changing of the guard or just an injury-induced blip in the era of Brownlee dominance.
Having finished outside the individual medals at either a Commonwealth or Olympic Games for the first time since 2012 on Thursday, the pair again looked a shadow of their dominant selves, England finishing one minute ahead of New Zealand in third.