The double Olympic Champion wins in style as Richard Allen earns Silver in the Men’s Elite U23 event. The Great Britain Age-Group Team cope with the heat and tough competition to reach double figures in the podium count.
When the two-time and reigning Olympic Triathlon champion, Alistair Brownlee, appeared as a surprise name on the start list of the 2016 ITU Aquathlon World Championship in Cozumel, Mexico, the event was assured of perhaps its highest profile for many years. While having little, if any previous experience in the aquathlon format, “it’s definitely my first ever run-swim-run” he admitted post-race, his class and status made him the race favourite, even in the presence of four-time World Champion, Richard Varga (SVK).
Cozumel ITU Aquathlon World Championships
1st – Alistair Brownlee (GBR) – 28:58
2nd – Richard Varga (SVK) – 29:03
3rd – Tommy Zaferes (USA) – 29:18
1st – Mariya Shorets (RUS) – 33:12
2nd – Anastasia Abrosimova (RUS) – 34:09
3rd – Valentina Zapatrina (RUS) – 34:16
1st – Jonas Schomburg (TUR) – 30:00
2nd – Richard Allen (GBR) – 31:06
3rd – Tim Law Leong (HKG) – 33:09
After the opening 2.5km run, Brownlee and home athlete Crisanto Grajales held a 15 second lead over their chasers, with the Slovakian surprisingly 30 seconds back. The finest swimmer in the sport, Richard Varga then produced a great swim to make up all of that time and reach T2 with Alistair right on his heels at the swim exit. Back on dry land, few can compete with the British athlete who duly came home to take the win ahead of Richard Varga, with Tommy Zaferes (USA) in Bronze. Held in conjunction with the Senior Elite race, Richard Allen finished 13th overall, which earned him Silver in the Elite Under-23 category.
I enjoyed it and it’s hard, really hard. It’s so hot here and trying to swim after running is tough
“I enjoyed it and it’s hard, really hard. It’s so hot here and trying to swim after running is tough”, said the new champion shortly after his race.
With an extensive and very swift team from Mexico competing in the Age-Group event, medals were always going to be hard-earned for the 101 strong British team that started in what, for UK-based athletes, is a relatively unusual aquathlon format. Many athletes commented on just how tough the run to swim transition is under race conditions.
Great Britain Age-Group Team Medals:
Natasha Sinha (F16-19)
Michael Smallwood (M70-74)
Amy Wilkinson (F30-34)
Alison Grinnell (F40-44)
Gordon Crawford (M50-54)
Caroline Whittaker (F55-59)
Andy Bourne (M55-59)
Liz Dunlop (F60-64)
Ted Hamilton (M65-69)
Sharon Hill (F50-54)
Peggy Crome (F70-74)
Natasha Sinha (16-19) won Gold in her first appearance in the Great Britain team, while also setting the fourth fastest time of the day. The 16-19 category also saw the fastest British Age-Group time from Jack Shayler, though unfortunately that didn’t result in a medal as he would finish fourth in his very competitive division.
The men’s 70-74 category saw a dominant display from Michael Smallwood. He finished a full four minutes clear of Silver. Michael is also entered in both the Sprint and Standard distance triathlon events. Could this be the first of a golden triple in Mexico? Having already won European Championship Gold earlier this year in aquathlon, duathlon and triathlon, that is not an unrealistic ambition in his case.
Gordon Crawford (50-54) continued his run of medal success at this championship, adding Silver to the Gold he won 12 months ago, while Alison Grinnell (40-44) and Ted Hamilton (65-69) matched the Silver medals that they had won in Chicago.
Racing continues today (Thursday) at the ITU World Triathlon Grand Final Cozumel, with the Age Group Sprint distance World Championship plus the Men’s Elite Under-23 World Championship.