Team USA win ITU Mixed Relay in Nottingham
Brits battle for silver in front of thousands in the East Midlands
Nottingham hosted its debut ITU Mixed Relay World Series event today in the East Midlands, with the four-strong American team victorious after a fast and frenetic race.
The Brits – featuring a crack team of 2013 ITU World Champ Non Stanford, Derby’s ITU podium athlete Tom Bishop, Olympic Games bronze medallist Vicky Holland and two-time Olympic medallist Jonny Brownlee – had to settle for silver, but it did little to dampen the lively East Midlands atmosphere.
After its breakthrough event at the Glasgow Commonwealth Games in 2014, Mixed Relay has since been added to the Olympic Games schedule for 2020 and has witnessed the ITU create the Mixed Relay World Series, with the first 2018 leg taking place in Nottingham before heading to Hamburg and Edmonton in Canada.
The first women’s leg began with a 300m swim in the River Trent, before a 6.6km bike and 1.5km run along the Victoria Embankment. Team France would end the first leg in first, with Stanford in fifth, before Derbyshire’s Bishop moved up to fourth on leg two.
The American Katie Zafares seized the initiative from the French on leg three, and had created a sizeable 35-second lead for the final U.S. athlete, Matthew McElroy, by the final swim in the Trent.
If local legend Brian Clough was said to walk on the River Trent, Jonny Brownlee would need to run on it to cut into the American lead and the Brit started in relentless fashion, already shaving that lead down to 23secs after the swim.
Onto the bike and Jonny Brownlee was flying in front of the partisan crowds, cutting into the American lead once more. But with just a 6km bike leg, would he have enough time to catch Matthew McElroy?
The frenetic pace perhaps inevitably dropped late onto the bike and the American entered T2 with their 30-second margin reestablished.
With rain beginning to fall, the 1.5km run proved just too short for the younger Brownlee to step into the lead, and the American team added the gold to go with their Mixed Relay world champs silver from 2017. Brownlee would cement the silver for GB before the French took bronze.