SA’s Murray leads ITU World Triathlon Series
Great Britain’s Jonathan Brownlee kicked off his Olympic season with a dominant performance in San Diego, winning his second ITU World Triathlon Series title ahead of Switzerland’s Sven Riederer and South Africa’s Richard Murray, who now leads the Series after claiming second in Sydney. This is a first for an African athlete.
In the race that had a huge impact on the Olympic picture, Brownlee was part of a small break at the start of the bike leg. However that didn’t last long, as the leaders and first two chase groups came together to form a huge pack of over 50 athletes, who then hit T2 together. From there it came down to the 10km run, and Brownlee and Murray charged to the front on the first lap. They went toe to toe for almost half of the 10km run, before Brownlee laid down the trademark family kick and went on to win in 1 hour 48 minutes and 47 seconds, his first race in almost seven months.
“For me it was the first race of the season, I didn’t really know what to expect,” Brownlee said. “Seven months is a long time out, I was in a bit of shock at the race briefing thinking wow, ‘It’s been a long long time since I’ve been in one of these,’ I went into the race very relaxed really because I knew I didn’t have to do anything, I didn’t have to finish top nine, top four or anything, I just had to race my own race, and yeah, I was pleased.
“The swim and the bike were good, I wasn’t sure what to expect on that, but I have been running well all winter and my cross country races have been good. I felt good on the run. I felt a bit tired towards the end, I think I lacked a bit of racing there. Sven Riederer is a tough guy, he’s chased me down a few times before, in Beijing he chased me down down and he never gives up…So it was a good race, I’m pleased to win, it shows that the training has gone well over the winter and I’m looking forward to the next race really.”
Behind him, Riederer and Spain’s Mario Mola were catching Murray, and Riederer eventually passed Murray to stamp another series medal onto his resume. It was enough for the 2004 Athens Olympics bronze medallist to confirm his London 2012 Olympic Games spot, and also means that Riederer is now the equal most successful man in series history without a win. Riederer now has five medals, three bronze and two silver, alongside Alexander Bryukhankov.
Murray’s bronze medal added another brilliant turn in his stunning rise. In his first ITU World Triathlon Series race this year in Sydney, he claimed Africa’s first series medal with silver. The result in San Diego means that Murray is also now the 2012 ITU World Triathlon Series rankings leader, another first for an African athlete.
But the excitement wasn’t finished there, as the fight to decide who would be on the USA men’s team for the Olympics went down to the wire. Matt Chrabot, Jarrod Shoemaker, Manuel Huerta and Hunter Kemper were the main contenders and all left T2 within 30 seconds of each other. Huerta surged to the leaders early, and at one point was sitting in fifth place, while Kemper steadily worked his way through the field. Heading into the final lap, Huerta was in sixth and Kemper ninth, before the veteran pulled off an incredible last kilometre surge to finish in fifth. Huerta held on for ninth, which meant both booked their tickets to London. It’s Kemper’s fourth consecutive Olympic Games.
In terms of Olympic qualification, Whitfield’s 11th place didn’t allow him to overtake Atkinson, but he did move ahead of Portugal’s Joao Pereira, which right now gives Canada three men’s spots at the London 2012 Games, while Portugal drop back down to two. The New Zealand Olympic team of Docherty, Gemmell and Sissons secured their three spots after all three finishes in the top-10. It moved New Zealand to third in the list of eight teams who can qualify the maximum, ahead of France and Spain. Click here for full review