It was a case of déjà vu for Marc Austin as the plucky Scot narrowly failed to land the World U23 title in Edmonton. The 20-year-old from Stirling was out run by France’s Dorian Coninx in a repeat of last year’s world junior finals in London and had to settle for the runner-up spot.
Gordon Benson, 20, from Leeds picked up the bronze meaning the same three flags were flying from the podium as they were in that sprint race in Hyde Park last September, but Grant Sheldon, who had finished third on that occasion, trailed in a disappointing 16th
“It was good to step up from the juniors and to do it in the U23s a year later is encouraging,” said Austin, who finished 14 seconds behind Coninx. “He ran the whole race on the front and broke me on the last lap so he deserved it. Fair play to him.”
Austin, 22nd in the Commonwealth Games after being in a three-man breakaway with the Brownlee brothers on the bike, had words of consolation for training partner, housemate and fellow Scot, Sheldon.
“He suffered with injury after the Games,” Austin continued. “So it’s been a rush to get back for this. We both put quite a big effort into that [Strathclyde Park], but he had some great races at the start of the season and he’ll be back next year for sure.”
Benson came fifth in the juniors last year and after winning the ETU European U23 title in Russia and finishing 16th in the World Series race in London in June, was pleased to make the rostrum.
“It was great to see my mates getting a medal last year, but it wasn’t much fun sat in the crowd watching them being handed out. It’s not where I wanted to be. The pace started out pretty steady on the run today and then whittled down, but it was good to be there with Marc. We’re always there or thereabouts.” And as for champion Coninx. “We’ll get him one day,” he added.
South Korean Seunghun Seo led out of the water in a lightning fast 1,500m swim of 17:31, but a group of 24 soon came together on the six-lap 43.2km bike course with the British trio staying out of danger towards the front.
When it came to the run it was every man for himself, and Coninx led the charge with Benson, Austin and South Africa’s Wian Sullwald, 15th at the Commonwealth Games, all pursuing.
Coninx, who was also seventh in the World Series in Hamburg this year, finally broke the opposition on the last lap of four to win in 1:53:06.
There will not be much time for Austin and Benson to wallow in their achievements as they are likely to be picked for the U23 Mixed Relay, which closes the festival on Monday afternoon.
Image credit: David Pearce