On its fourth appearance on the Commonwealth Games programme, the women’s event promises to present some of the best racing of the season with an impressive start list. As the very first medal event of the Games, check out who we think could feature on the podium in the Gold Coast this Thursday.
Reigning double world champion, Flora Duffy (BER) will surely take her chance of claiming the first gold medal in Major Games. Duffy, who finished in 8th place both in Rio 2016 Olympics and in the Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games, will be the woman to stop here, even though she will have to save some energy as the Bermudian will be competing in three medal events in the Gold Coast. For the first time ever, Bermuda will have a team in the Mixed Relay event, and Duffy has also qualified for the Mountain Bike race, which will take place only three days after the triathlon races.
One of her main rivals will be Aussi Ashleigh Gentle, who proved race after race last year that she is one of the better runners in the field, and who will try to repeat what Emma Snowsill did in Melbourne 2006: be on top of the podium on home soil. At 27 years of age, and coming off the best year of her career under new coach Jamie Turner, she will face a truly world-class field at the Games, featuring five of the world’s top 10 athletes. But she can also say that Gentle is the only athlete to have beaten Duffy in the past year, when she broke through to win the World Series in Montreal. “(It would be) the greatest thing ever,’’ she told the local media in an interview last week. “I have ridden and run around here (the Gold Coast) most of my life. I am certainly comfortable here, that’s for sure. I am really looking forward to seeing what I can do in front of my home crowd,” she said.
Along with them will be lining up one of the most experienced triathletes in the field, Kiwi Andrea Hewitt, going for her third Commonwealth Games, after claiming bronze in Melbourne 2006 and a fourth place in Glasgow 2014. The Kiwi has the experience of winning here in the Gold Coast in the WTS event in 2017. And even tho Andrea performs better over Olympic distance, she is convinced that if her swim goes well, she will be among the contenders for the podium. “A sprint race leaves you no room for error,” she said.
Brits Jess Learmonth, Vicky Holland and Sophie Coldwell will also make a strong trio, and will most likely try to break away during the swim segment, with Learmonth being one of the stronger swimmers in the field. Holland, bronze medallist in Glasgow 2014 as well as in Rio 2016, has had a successful return to competition with a gold in Cape Town World Cup after almost a year off due to injuries. The brits will be joined by Non Stanford, who will be representing Wales in the Games. If all of them team together, they will be one tough team to take down.
They all should have to keep an eye on Canadian Joanna Brown, one of the breakout stars of the 2017 season, who is determined to finish among the top 10 in the Gold Coast. And another one to watch will be Gilian Sanders (RSA), who plans to say goodbye to competition after the races in the Gold Coast, and can’t think of a better way of doing so than a great performance in the Games.
Swim – 750m commencing with a start pontoon on the Broadwater with an anticlockwise course
Bike – 20 km bike leg consisting of a four-lap technical course which stretches from Southport North to Biggera Waters and back
Run – 5km run leg consisting of two 2.5km laps of a flat and fast course between Southport and Labrador.