Joanna Brown used the day’s fastest run to propel herself onto the podium at the Commonwealth Games in Australia’s Gold Coast, taking the bronze medal behind Bermuda’s Flora Duffy and England’s Jessica Learmonth.
“I can’t put this into words right now,” said Brown, who had been sidelined for a month after a crash at the opening WTS race of the season in Abu Dhabi. “It has been a really chaotic month after fracturing my shoulder in Abu Dhabi, and then just trying to make it back to this race … I was just so happy to be here, to race and even just to finish the race.”
Learmonth led the way out of the water, a few seconds ahead of Duffy, and the two managed to open up a gap of just over a minute on the chase group of 10 that included all three Australian team members (Ashleigh Gentle, Gillian Backhouse and Charlotte McShane), England’s Vicky Holland and Non Stanford from Wales.
“I just chilled out on the bike. I was a bit hesitant because of the crash four weeks ago and I haven’t spent lots of time on the road so I just kind of hung out for the ride,” said Brown.
Once out on the run course it became a battle of attrition within the chase group as the race for the bronze came down to a foot race between Gentle, Holland and Brown. Gentle was the first to be dropped and then Brown pulled away from Holland over the final few hundred metres to run her way to the podium.
“I knew that I had been running really fast because I have had a few really good run workouts,” Brown said. “I know I have a good finish, and I wanted it today, so I kicked as hard as I could for the finish and came away with the bronze.”
While she could see Learmonth running down the finishing chute, the swim leader had just enough to take the bronze. No one, though, would touch Duffy, who took her first big-games medal after finishing eighth at both the 2014 Commonwealth Games and the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio.
Canadian Dominika Jamnicky finished 14th.
“I gave everything I had today,” Jamnicky, who was born in South Australia and whose mother competed at the Commonwealth Games in 2002 said after the race. “It was bittersweet because I was close getting onto the pack on the bike, but I dangled in that pack behind the main pack. It has come full circle for me. My mom is my role model so to hug her at the sidelines was amazing. I’ll hold that memory close to my heart. This is my first major games. I can’t wait to have the opportunity to do it again.”
Canadian rising star, Desirae Ridenour, finished 17th.
Sharpe leads the Canadian men
While the Brownlee brothers (Alistair and Jonathan) did the lion’s share of the work in the breakaway group on the bike after defending champion Alistair led out of the water, all three Canadian competitors found themselves in the chase group that came off the bike 30-seconds behind the first six.
“It was a tough race from the gun,” said Sharpe.“I had an average swim and then went full gas on the bike. The bike was solid. I was off the front group, so I made the best of it and tried to get myself in the best position for the run.”
Henri Schoeman, who was part of the lead group of six, blasted away on the run to take the gold medal. Jacob Birtwhistle used the day’s fastest run to take the silver medal, while Scotland’s Marc Austin, another member of the breakaway, hung on for the bronze.
Once on the run Sharpe made up an impressive 13 spots to finish ninth. Tyler Mislawchuk, who had been under the weather earlier in the week, had a tough day and finished 12th.
“It was a terrible day. I don’t like to sugarcoat it. It was just a bad day,” said Mislawchuk.“I got out of the water and didn’t have any energy on the bike or the run.”
The third Canadian in the field, Alexis Lepage, finished right behind Mislawchuk in 13th.