By Erin Greene
Jodie Stimpson (ENG) put together a tactically brilliant race on the first day of the Glasgow Commonwealth Games to be awarded the first gold medal of the games. Kirsten Sweetland kept Canada’s strong tradition of Commonwealth medals alive and well with silver, while Vicky Holland put England back on the podium with third. It was the first time England has ever been on the podium, much less won gold in triathlon at the Commonwealth Games.
Team England got off to an early and commanding lead with all three of its competitors jetting up the start pontoon in the top spots. Lucy Hall (ENG) led the English trio out of transition, with Flora Duffy (BER), Emma Moffatt (AUS), Aileen Reid (NIR), and Nicky Samuels (NZL) hot on their heels.
While they enjoyed a small break for half a lap, the determined Andrea Hewitt (NZL), Sweetland, and Emma Jackson (AUS) quickly shut down the gap and pulled themselves up with the leaders. Duffy attempted an attack on the third lap, but she wasn’t able to back it up with such strong cyclists tucked in the pack. Instead, the talented ten stuck together, each taking their turn up top.
But on the fourth lap, Hall made a move to drop the group and this time managed to make the break stick for a lap. Behind her, Duffy continued to work to keep the chase in distance and a final last ditch effort from Reid saw the group pulled back into a train of 10 as theu headed into the second transition.
Stimpson stomped out of T2 with gold on her mind, but so did a number of other athletes. Sweetland, Reid, and Jackson immediately answered Stimpson’s thundering pace, not daring to let up for a step or risk losing Stimpson early on the three-lap run.
Together, the four jockeyed for position repeatedly, with Reid and 2006 Commonwealth Games bronze medallist Hewitt working themselves back into the group on the back of lap one. From there, it was a game of tactics, but it Jackson was the first to drop off the pace, followed by Hewitt.
While Holland wouldn’t be easily kicked off the blistering pace, Stimpson and Sweetland ran stride for stride out in front on the last lap. It wasn’t until just a few hundred meters remained that Stimpson was able to seal the deal with a final push, garnering her first major games medal.