Although Flora took a hard earned bronze medal at last Sunday’s Pan Am Games she was left wondering what might have been had Sarah Haskins not decided to wait in T1 for her teammates.
Haskins has a reputation for being one of the strongest cyclists in the draft legal format and has often taken medals in major events by driving the pace off the front. However, she is not noted for her strong run and on the flat Toronto bike course the team might have decided that a group could not get away and so opted for Haskins to work for the stronger runners in the team.
With Haskins in her mini break, Flora’s lead of 40 seconds after the third lap could well have held and even increased because Haskins did a lot of work to reel her in and without Haskins the large chase pack might have continued to lose time.
Team tactics are now not uncommon in larger triathlon events and infact quite often in the past there has been some controversy when countries have selected athletes with specific strengths to protect or support their key athletes, not unlike in cycling. Infact the renowned Brownlee brothers, gold and bronze medallists in the London Olympics, have been known to team up before races with strong swim / cyclists from other nations to try and work with them to get a group away on the bike.
Great credit to Flora though who showed her usual determination and ability to dig deep to hold off some strong runners. You can never underestimate the ability to dig deeper than your opponents in a race but unfortunately in my experience it is largely a character trait and not something that is easy to just learn !!
For Flora this gutsy performance is just another good building block that will add to her ability to continue winning and stand on podiums. Now….just stay injury free !!