Brownlee joy at team success

GOOD AS GOLD: England’s victorious mixed triathlon team relay members show off their medals after winning in Glasgow. From left, Vicky Holland, Jonathan Brownlee, Jodie Stimpson and Alistair Brownlee

Jonathan Brownlee, Vicky Holland, Jodie Stimpson and Alistair Brownlee

First published in Sport
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ALISTAIR Brownlee led England's dream team to a dominant victory in the mixed relay to complete a sweep of the triathlon gold medals at the Commonwealth Games.

Vicky Holland, Jonny Brownlee, Jodie Stimpson and Alistair were all medallists in the individual events on Thursday, with the latter two winning gold.

And they never looked like being beaten as a team, Alistair crossing the line 49 seconds ahead of second-placed South Africa, with Australia third.

As he had done two days before, the Olympic champion had time to pick up two England flags and jog down the finishing straight before casually strolling across the line.

It was the first medal won jointly by the brothers at a major Games, which made it extra special for Alistair.

He said: "Of course it does. It's very different for us doing something as a team, although we race together all the time.

"To be able to share an achievement is really good. We've raced so many relays together over the years and we really enjoy doing it. It's fantastic to be able to do it on a major scale like we did today."

For Jonny, the main thing was to stand on the top step of the podium after once again being pushed into second place by his brother two days before.

"It feels a bit strange to win a gold medal finally but it's nice," said the 24-year-old. "I want to win but I normally get beaten by Alistair. To get a gold medal is pretty special."

The event, which involves each athlete completing a 250-metre swim, six-kilometre bike and 1.6km run, was making its debut at a major Games.

Britain won the world team championship in Hamburg two weeks ago with a weaker team and against stronger opposition so England went in as overwhelming favourites for gold.

But they were well aware what could go wrong after failing to finish at the world championships in 2013 when Non Stanford crashed on the bike.

There were no such dramas at Strathclyde Country Park.

Holland ended the first leg in fourth place after a powerful run from Canada's Kirsten Sweetland, who beat the England athlete to silver in the individual event.

Jonny soon closed the gap and had taken a commanding lead by the time he handed over to Stimpson.

Having been caught by New Zealand's Nicky Samuels on the bike, Stimpson pulled out a nine-second lead on the run to give Alistair a headstart on the final leg.

He extended that throughout, with the four athletes in a group behind having given up the chase as they prepared to fight it out for the minor medals.

It was no surprise that it was individual bronze medallist Richard Murray who came through to take second place for South Africa ahead of Australia's Ryan Bailie.

Holland admitted being in the same team as the Brownlee brothers, two of the best triathletes in the history of the sport, brought pressure as well as opportunity.

"It puts you in a fantastic position because you know you've got the best two guys in the world on your team and that's a great place to be in," she said.

"But equally it adds to a little bit of the pressure because you don't want to mess up. You've just got to do your job properly and it should go perfect."

The only concern for the team came when Alistair appeared to step out of the changeover box before being tagged by Stimpson, but he avoided a 15-second penalty.

"I knew it was really close," he said.

"I tried to make everything as safe as I could - running into the water and getting out, transitions - to try to not get any penalties. Then I wanted to make sure I had a good cushion in case anything had gone wrong."

Big crowds lined the course for the event, which is popular with fans and athletes alike.

Stimpson said: "It's so exciting. It's not only exciting for the spectators, it's brilliant to be a part of. It's definitely full on but it shows weaknesses. You have to be strong and you can't have a weak link in the team."

The International Triathlon Union led a campaign to get the mixed relay included in the programme for the Rio Olympics but it was unsuccessful.

The governing body is now hoping it will make its debut in Tokyo in six years' time.

"We'd love to see this in the Olympics," said Alistair. "We tried along with a lot of other people to try to get it into 2016 and it would have been fantastic if it did.

"The inclusion of men and women racing together, there's the team element, the tactical element. It's short, fast and good to watch so I think it's a really good Olympic event, so hopefully it'll get there, although I won't be doing triathlon any more."

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