It was the Wollongong Wizards inspired victory that will have Australia’s Commonwealth Games rivals on high alert.
Anchored by a blistering final run leg from Wizards rising star Jacob Birtwhistle, Australia claim it’s first ever gold medal in the ITU Triathlon Teams Relay World Championship in Hamburg on Sunday night.
After being teamed with fellow Wizards Ashley Gentle and Charlotte McShane as well as Matthew Hauser, Birtwhistle came from more than 30 seconds down to guide Australia to a memorable victory. The 22-year-old, who won an individual silver in the World Triathlon Series round, was fifth when he jumped in the water for his swim leg but made up steady ground in the water and then on the bike.
He left the transition area after his bike leg in third before powering over his rivals in the run to finish in front of USA and The Netherlands.
“I will give it to Hamburg, I love it here,” Birtwhistle said.
“To come out here with these guys, we were all able to put together a good race and end up as World Champions, it is pretty awesome.”
There will be a Mixed Teams Relay at the Commonwealth Games on the Gold Coast next year and the event will also be held at the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo. Birtwhistle, McShane and Gentle have all qualified individually for the Commonwealth Games.
The teams relay differs from regular triathlons, with four athletes – two men and two women – each completing a 300m swim, 7km bike and 1.6km run. Australia were one of 20 teams competing in Hamburg and were in the mix early after McShane’s opening leg.
McShane finished her leg in fifth spot before Hauser and Gentle kept the green and gold quartet in touching distance.
It was left up to Birtwhistle to close a 36 second margin to the leaders and the Tasmanian product delivered in stunning style much to the delight of his teammates.
“Jake was just amazing,” Gentle said.
“It was a great privilege to be part of this team. I have not been in too many relays but what a great feeling after some scary moments and to be able to pull together as a team.”
Earlier in the meeting, McShane snatched an automatic spot at the Commonwealth Games by finishing eighth in the women’s World Triathlon Series event over the weekend.
Gentle had already sealed her position at the Games, but claimed silver in the same race behind Bermuda’s Games favourite Flora Duffy. Birtwhistle’s silver came on the same day as he produced another strong run to finish behind Spain’s Mario Mola.