After a silver medal in the ITU World Championships for 2013, England’s Jodie Stimpson has gone one better today to become the Home Nation’s first-ever gold medal at the 2014 Commonwealth Games in Glasgow. The Midlander was followed home by Canada’s Kirsten Sweetland and English teammate Vicky Holland in front of a packed grandstand and course at Strathclyde Park.
Triathlon’s third appearance at the Commonwealth Games kicked-off with 30 athletes from 12 countries under soaring temperatures 15-miles south-east of Glasgow. With Wales’ reigning world champion Non Stanford and the two-time ITU World Champ, Helen Jenkins, both injured, the pre-race predictions largely centred on the battle of the Darren Smith athletes; England’s Jodie Stimpson and Northern Ireland’s Aileen Reid (nee Morrison). Reid was only beaten by Non Stanford second at the 2013 Grand Final in 2013, with Stimpson placing third.
Other contenders included the 2006 Commonwealths bronze medallist Andrea Hewitt, Canada’s Kirsten Sweetland, strong Aussie runner Emma Jackson and the Olympic bronze medallist Emma Moffatt.
GLASGOW IS A GO
At 11am, the athletes dived into the Strathclyde Park waters and triathlon’s third appearance at the Commonwealth Games was a go. The non-wetsuit swim was led by the English trio of Lucy Hall (known as the Mermaid in the French GP series), Vicky Holland and Stimpson (both pictured above), closely followed by Morrison.
With the temperature rising further on the packed banks of Strathclyde Park, the English led out of the water but it wasn’t enough to produce an early breakaway, with a group of 10 including Moffatt, Sweetland, Jackson, Reid, Hewitt and the experienced Kiwi Nicky Samuels forming. The Brits pushed the pace, with Jackson provoking heated ‘team versus individual sport’ debate on Twitter by hiding at the back.
Onto the bell for the last 8km leg of the bike and Lucy Hall had created a break for herself in a bid for a medal. Is wasn’t to be for Hall, however, who was brought back in before T2 and that pack of 10 would enter T2 together.
With the first of the three run laps, Moffatt and Samuels had been dropped along with Hall. The high run pace would additionally prove much for Reid, despite being backed by the home crowd, who was dropped at the 1:45hr stage. For the last lap it was down to a group of five, with Stimpson, Holland, Hewitt, Jackson and Sweetland – aiming to repeat Simon Whitfield’s Canadian win in 2002 – in the mix for the medals.
Jackson and Hewitt were the next athletes to go, with Vicky Holland – in surely the race of her life – battling with the Darren Smith athletes Stimpson and Sweetland. Stimpson stepped up a gear on the downhill with 200m to go to ditch Sweetland and head unchallenged along the finishing chute to become England’s first-ever Commonwealth Games gold medallist.
An emotional Stimpson was greeted at the finish line by her family, a triumph for the Oldbury-hailing racer who missed out on qualifying for the 2012 Olympics in London.
The men’s event, featuring the Brownlee brothers, begins at 3pm. We’ll have updates here throughout the day.