Team England light up Commonwealth Games with Mixed Relay gold
As the sun came out in Sutton Park on the first Sunday afternoon of the 2022 Commonwealth Games, it was Team England who shone brightest in the Mixed Team Relay, Georgia Taylor-Brown taking the tape after superb legs from Alex Yee, Sophie Coldwell and Samuel Dickinson helped tee up the win.
Yee had already put 20 seconds into the chasers after leg one, while a lightning Olivia Mathias (WAL) built on Iestyn’s Harriett’s strong effort, Dominic Coy then keeping his team in the hunt only for Non Stanford to put in an outstanding run surge and earn silver for Wales, Sophie Linn and Australia across third with bronze after Jacob Birtwhistle, Natalie Van Coevorden and Matthew Hauser had all combined to put her right in the medal mix.
“This is a special team to be part of, I wanted Alex to get in front, so 20 seconds was very nice, but a bit scary. I just wanted to keep it,” said Coldwell. “Once I’d made that bike pack I just wanted to stay positive and run my heart out for these guys,” added Yee.
“The crowd really carried you round, the support was unbelievable. There’s a lot of pressure as you wait in that tent to go,” said Dickinson. “I thought I’d made the right decision not to wear a wetsuit but then I was panicking a bit before the start,” added Taylor-Brown. “I just wanted to swim hard, and when you’ve got a gap at the front you have time to do the little things right. At the top of the hill I thought it was time to take it all in, that crowd was incredible”
It had been South Africa’s Jamie Riddle setting the early pace in the water, emerging a full eight seconds ahead of Hayden Wilde after just 300m, Canada’s Tyler Mislawchuk, Barbados’ Matthew Wright and Yee chasing them up the long ramp into transition.
Yee was able to get onto Wilde’s back wheel and the pair rode with Riddle throughout the first 5km loop, finding plenty of daylight to the chase pack including Mislawchuk, Iestyn Harris and Birtwhistle.
That gap was up to 16 seconds out onto the run, when it was Yee straight onto the gas. Wilde had no answer to the surge, Riddle dropped 45 seconds back as Birtwhistle found his groove to hit third, now just five seconds off the New Zealander.
By the time Sophie Coldwell got the second leg underway and emerged from the water her gap to Natalie Van Coevorden was 27 seconds, Nicole Van Der Kaay right with the Australian onto the bike course.
Friday’s individual champion Flora Duffy picked up the duties for Bermuda and cut the deficit to 70 seconds by the end of her 5km bike, but it was Wales’ Olivia Mathias who put together the leg of the day, passing Van Coevorden to take up position with Beth Potter and Van Der Kaay 30 seconds off the front at the halfway point.
As Coldwell handed Dickinson that advantage, Matt Hauser got going now 55 seconds off the pace, Tyler Butterfield and Bermuda 65 seconds back, Canada now 100 seconds away.
Tayler Reid was flying for New Zealand and the lead was cut to 25 seconds to him and Grant Sheldon (SCO) and the two got to work on closing in on the leader, but Dickinson has a perfect T2 and suddenly the difference had grown again.
Dominic Coy and Matt Hauser were flying for Wales and Australia to catch Reid up the final hill and suddenly it was a former World Champion in the form of Non Stanford assuming the fourth and final effort for Wales, long-time rival Andrea Hansen for New Zealand and Sophie Linn for Australia now just 16 seconds back.
Taylor-Brown’s swim was typically strong and with no wetsuit to remove and a fluid transition, she suddenly had 40 seconds of daylight and suddenly the only result in doubt was found among the three-way battle raging for who would join her on the podium.
Stanford, Linn and Hansen stuck together on the bike trying to conserve legs while also keeping Scotland’s Sophia Green at bay, but it was out onto the run that Linn took the initiative, spearheading the trio out of T2.
Stanford was in determined mood though, and as Hansen’s challenge faded along with New Zealand medal hopes, Wales moved into second up the hill, Stanford’s long stride and experience proving decisive against the Australian newcomer.
Up ahead, it was sunglasses up and soaking up the atmosphere for a smiling Georgia Taylor-Brown as she went on to take the tape and fall into the arms of her teammates, just as Stanford produced a decisive final burst of speed to rapturous applause for a hard-fought silver, Linn crossing just three seconds behind. Andrea Hansen brought home New Zealand in fourth, Sophia Green and Scotland in fifth.
Full results can be found here.
Related Event: 2022 Birmingham Commonwealth Games
|Results: Elite Men|
|Results: Mixed Relay|
|1.||Team I England||ENG||01:16:40|
|2.||Team I Wales||WAL||01:17:26|
|3.||Team I Australia||AUS||01:17:29|
|4.||Team I New Zealand||NZL||01:17:37|
|5.||Team I Scotland||SCO||01:18:35|
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