Townsend wins first Commonwealth Games paratriathlon gold
Former Royal Marine took full advantage of a crash by pre-race favourite Bill Chaffey to clinch his first major title.
England’s Joe Townsend was crowned the first Commonwealth Games paratriathlon champion having defeated the home favourites on Gold Coast.
Gold 🥇 for @joetownsendtri 🏴. Absolute monster bike discipline, fastest by over 3 minutes put him in a commanding position. Fantastic. #220gram #paratriathlon
The Eastbourne wheelchair racer put on an immaculate performance to finish ahead of Australians Nic Beveridge and Bill Chaffey, with England’s Mark Conway in fourth and Northern Ireland’s David Kerr sixth.
Former Royal Marine Townsend took the lead coming into the second transition and finished in 62min 39sec with a 49sec margin over Beveridge.
The 30-year-old took to the sport after losing both legs in an explosion in Afghanistan in 2008 and this was his first major honour.
It capped a steady improvement in results, having placed sixth in the Rio Paralympics in 2016 and third in last year’s ITU World Championship in Rotterdam.
Townsend was also helped in his quest when Chaffey, a Gold Coast local, had a spectacular crash midway through the second leg on the recumbent handcycle when he was set to charge into the lead.
The 42-year-old police officer, who had previously never been defeated by a fellow Commonwealth competitor in almost a decade of racing, lost control on a corner, hit the barriers and broke off part of his left hand-pedal. Townsend took full advantage to sweep past with, Chaffey hampered for the rest of the cycle.
It was primarily an Australia v England ‘Ashes’ contest as six men lined up at the Southport Broadwater Parklands as the paratriathlon took over from Thursday’s individual triathlon contests – Northern Ireland, through Kerr, being the only other nation represented.
A factoring system gave the more severely impaired paratriathletes, Beveridge, Conway and Kerr a 3min head-start, and with Chaffey a strong swimmer, Townsend would be playing catch-up from the off.
The time gap also meant Beveridge led Conway by 50sec into the first transition, with Chaffey – who won the world title on the Gold Coast in 2009 - catching fast before the crash brought an abrupt end to his gold medal challenge.
Townsend then took charge, catching Beveridge in the closing metres of the handcycle leg, and a sharp transition saw him leave transition in his racing chair well clear.
The Englishman, also a four-time Invictus Games champion, pushed 29sec clear by the end of the first lap of two, and had extended it even more by the close.