After a strong 2017 season of racing that included three podium finishes on the World Cup circuit, Joanna Brown rebounded from an early-season injury to win a bronze medal at the 2018 Commonwealth Games in April.
In the opening WTS event of the season, Brown crashed out on the bike, resulting in a fractured shoulder. With the Games just one month away, she wasn’t sure she would even make it to the start line in Australia.
But, after a remarkable recovery, she arrived on race day ready to go.
Bermuda’s Flora Duffy and England’s Jessica Learmonth opened up a 40-second gap on the main pack in the swim, and with the Games using a sprint-distance race for the first time in its history (previously running the Olympic-distance), they broke away and would not be caught over the 20 km bike.
The two of them ended up increasing their lead from T1 to T2, with Brown apart of a 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.
Out on the run, it became a three-way battle for bronze between Brown, Gentle and Holland, with Duffy and Learmonth up ahead. After dropping Gentle, Brown pulled away from Holland over the final few hundred metres to get herself on the medal stand.
The Carp, Ont., native produced the fastest 5 km run split in the field at 16:31, bringing her to the finish in 57:38, just five seconds back of the silver-medal winning Learmonth. Duffy won gold in 56:50.
“I can’t put this into words right now,” Brown said post-race. “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.”
Brown’s medal gives Canada a total of four over the sport’s four appearances at the Games, joining Simon Whitfield (gold, 2002), Carol Montgomery (gold, 2002) and Kirsten Sweetland (silver, 2014).
“I knew that I had been running really fast because I have had a few really good run workouts,” said Brown. “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.”