Commonwealth Games: England claim trio of gold medals in the triathlon finals

Triathlons aren’t meant to be a walk in the park but England still strolled, almost leisurely, to Commonwealth Games team gold in the sunshine.

With men’s champion Alex Yee and women’s silver medallist Georgia Taylor-Brown in the line-up, this was the host team’s race to lose and along with Sophie Coldwell and Sam Dickinson they were faultless from gun to tape for a 46-second victory.

There was a slight post-race disagreement between Yee and girlfriend Olivia Matthias, who won silver for Wales. She believed that medal meant they could get a dog, Yee wasn’t quite so sure.

“We never shook on that, perhaps after Paris,” he joked.

Birmingham’s leafy Sutton Park has not seen scenes like this since the World Scout Jamboree of 1957. Fans were several rows deep, their roar rolling around the undulating course as England took the lead and turned the screw on rivals.

“It’s never straight forward in these races, so many things could go wrong and so many likely mistakes which could cost some penalties,” insisted Yee.

“There is so much to happen in an hour of racing. We wanted to keep it as clean as possible, stay positive through the whole race and I wanted to give the guys as much of a lead as I could.

“I felt we were in good hands. I trust the guys, the crowd were amazing and gave us that extra little push. It was mental, running down the hill was a bit like the Tour de France, everyone on the sides, a helicopter above you.

GOLDEN GIRLS AND GUYS: England's Alex Yee, Sophie Coldwell, Sam Dickinson and Georgia Taylor-Brown (left-right) celebrate winning gold in the mixed relay Triathlon on day three of the 2022 Commonwealth Games in Birmingham. Picture: David Davies/PA Wire.

“It was a bit surreal. It was really cool. Now me and Liv can put ours next to each other. We have just moved house so hopefully there will be a nice place for them somewhere.”

What about a dog? “Not yet,” he added.

Yee’s showdown with New Zealand’s Haydn Wilde went to the wire in the men’s race on Friday, with talks of protests and legal letters.

However, he dominated him in the team event, handing over to team-mate Coldwell with a massive 20-second gap. She extended that by seven seconds as Wales, Scotland and New Zealand gave chase to Sam Dickinson on the third leg.

GOLDEN GIRLS AND GUYS: Team England, left to right, Alex Yee, Sophie Coldwell, Georgia Taylor-Brown and Sam Dickinson celebrate winning gold in the mixed relay Triathlon on day three of the 2022 Commonwealth Games in Birmingham. Picture: David Davies/PA Wire.

The lead was trimmed to 16 seconds when Taylor-Brown, the silver medallist in the women’s event, took over. Determined to save every second, she decided not to race in her wetsuit, saving critical seconds in the bike transition.

In truth, she could have raced in her pyjamas and still been too strong for rivals. Former world champion Non Stanford, one of triathlon’s most popular characters in what is set to be the final year of her career, held off Australia to take the silver for a jubilant Wales team in a sprint finish.

“The team set me up perfectly for that final leg,” said Taylor-Brown, the former Leeds Beckett University student.

“I’ve enjoyed doing that final leg because everyone in front of me are so strong, they do all the hard work. It’s a lot of pressure after they’ve done everything right.

“I tried to enjoy it and I was smiling the whole way around. I put my head down on the bike because my running has not been great, especially on Friday.

“I was taking all the noise in on the run, once I got over the hill, I knew we’d got it, so I smiled my way to the finish line.”

Speaking of the silver won by Wales, former world champion Stanford said: “Over the moon but kind of disbelief. We knew we had a chance of the podium.”

Dave Ellis and his guide Luke Pollard won the men’s para event which added to England team-mates, Katie Crowhurst and guide Jessica Fullagar, taking the women’s title.

Ellis said: “We didn’t know what the gap was. We knew we were going well and had to keep up the pressure. After we crested the hill on the last lap it was like ‘yeah this is it’. It was downhill (after that) so if anyone was coming they’d have to be really quick. We really hammered it.”

Meanwhile, Crowhurst thanked her guide Fullagar as she won gold

“I wouldn’t have been able to do it without Jess - it has been great,” she said. “It’s been a really tough competition. It’s great to have the support to help push through the pain [of a stitch].”