A renewed Australian Mixed Relay side has had the opportunity to hone their relay skills ahead of next month’s Tokyo ITU World Olympic Qualification event, taking home 4th in a testing race.
Despite outstanding racing from Ashleigh Gentle and anchor Matt Hauser, the Australians have had the Mixed Relay title torn from their grasp, with a 10 second penalty on the final exchange leaving the Australians just out of contention for a medal.
In a trying race that saw experienced relay athletes Aaron Royle, Gentle, and Hauser, as well as relay debutant Jaz Hedgeland placed on the back foot from the get-go, the New Zealand and British sides put on a strong performance to secure themselves 1st and 2nd, respectively.
An attacking start from confident American, British and Dutch teams had the Australians fighting for space from the start. While Hedgeland worked hard to make up ground on the run, there was still plenty of work to be done as she handed over to Royle in 6th.
Star swimmer Royle put his talents to good use, keeping the Aussies in touch with the leaders as he maintained position in 6th. Backing up his gold medal win yesterday, Jonathan Brownlee (GBR), alongside Tayler Reid (NZL) and Seth Rider (USA), made their break from the main chase group, gapping the Australians back 41 seconds in 6th place as Royle handed over to Gentle.
With the New Zealand and British teams seemingly flying along the course, Gentle and Hauser had their work cut out for them. Putting her foot down on the bike and the run, Gentle cut the gap down to under thirty seconds as Hauser took over with a medal well in sight.
Capitalising on Gentle’s momentum, Hauser dug deep to pull the Aussies back into contention for the win with an incredible swim, narrowing New Zealand’s lead to just one second. However, a tag outside of the exchange zone on the final handover saw Hauser forced to serve a 10 second penalty midway through the run, dropping the Australians back to a heartbreaking fourth and just falling short of catching an in-form American side for bronze.
With Edmonton the penultimate event on the World Triathlon Series calendar, the Australian squad now set their sights on the upcoming Tokyo ITU World Olympic Qualification event and next month’s World Triathlon Series Grand Final in Lausanne.
ITU Mixed Team Relay Edmonton
1st New Zealand 1:20:14
2nd Great Britain 1:20:23
3rd United States of America 1:20:30
4th Australia 1:20:33
Photo Credit: Wagner Araujo | ITU Media