Tyler Butterfield and Tyler Smith may not have taken home any medals in today’s Men’s Commonwealth Games Triathlon, and they weren’t expected to, but what they did do is acquit themselves well in a fast and unforgiving race that featured many of the world’s top 10 triathletes.
In wet and blustery conditions, as expected England’s Brownlee brothers tried to once again break the field on the swim but only had a slender margin of 10 seconds as they went into the bike with South Africa’s Henri Shoeman in a group of 6. Tyler Smith got off to an excellent start emerging from the water with the second group that formed into a group of 12 chasing down the lead six. By lap 2, however, he could not match the relentless pace set by the group that included three of the world’s top ranked triathletes and pre race favorites Richard Murray of South Africa, Jacob Birtwhistle of Australiaand and the talented New Zealander Ryan Sissons.
Tyler Butterfield exited the water over 40 secs down on the lead swimmers but used his renowned bike ability to power his way through the field and joined the younger Tyler at the end of the 2nd bike lap working with the youngster to hold their position in the field.
At T2 it was Schoeman who stormed out onto the run first of the leading six with close to a 30 sec lead on the chase pack. Jonathan Brownlee suprisingly had no answer to Schoeman and his brother Alistair, who has not been able to run properly for two months due to injury, quickly fell of the pace. Behind Schoeman, Scotland’s Marc Austin , having the race of his life, and Jonnny Brownlee ran side by side as last year’s junior triathlon world champ Matt Hauser and New Zealand’s Tayler Reid also fell of the pace.
As Schoeman consolidated his lead Birtwhistle, Murray and Sissons began to ominously close the gap with Jonny Brownlee seemingly unable to lift the pace. Birstwhistle then moved ahead of Brownlee and Austin and it was Austin who went with him . Schoeman took gold in 52:31 ahead of a fast finishing Birtwhistle(52:38) one of only two athletes, along with Sissons , to break 15 minutes for the 5km run. Austin just hung on for a brilliant bronze medal whilst Hauser found a second wind to hold off Sissons by 3 seconds for fouth with Murray just behind Sissons in 6th. Jonny Brownlee could only manage 7th in what was a huge disappointment for England as their other potential medal contender Tom Bishop finished way down the field in 19th..
Tyler Butterfield and Tyler Smith entered T2 well down on the leaders and it was Butterfield who had the stronger run as he posted a 16;13 5km, a good effort after putting in so much work on the bike, to finish 18th in 55:51 in what will almost certainly be his last major games. Tyler Smith held on for 21st out of 36 starters in 56:41, a creditable performance in his first major games. Smith can be pleased that he beat out all of the small island competitors including Jason Wilson of the Bahamas who has had some strong top 20 performances at world cup level. He also finished ahead of Ireland’s James Edgar, a strong triathlete. He showed that he was not overawed by the field and with more racing in his legs he will be able to hold on to that lead group on the bike and be a competitive force in years to come, especially if he can work his run times down over the next few years.
Altogether it has been a spectacular day for Bermuda’s triathletes in these world class events and Flora’s gold medal was backed up by our other three triathletes ; the future looks bright for Bermuda on the world triathlon stage.
FOR FULL RESULTS AND TIME SPLITS GO TO WWW.TRIATHLON.ORG – RESULTS MENU – COMMONWEALTH GAMES AND THEN ELITE MEN AND ELITE WOMEN IN THE DROP DOWN MENU.
Attention now turns to Saturday’s team relay event in which all four of our triathletes will represent little Bermuda and take on some of the powerhouse triathlon nations in England,Australia, South Africa, Canada and New Zealand as well as Wales and Scotland. For Bermuda to be only one of 8 Commonwealth nations capable of entering a competitive team in this event is a huge achievement in itself and the fact that an island of 26 square miles have entered a team that can actually compete at this level is equally remarkable. It should be great to watch ! Bermuda is certainly not there just ot make up the numbers !