Melbourne’s Marcel Walkington has produced his best ever World Triathlon Championship Series result in Hamburg over the weekend, narrowly missing a top 10 finish in the 20th anniversary of one of the world’s iconic international triathlons.
The 28-year-old finished a close 11th with the only other Australian in the elite men’s field Brandon Copeland 14th in a race that saw Germany’s Tim Hellwig snatch victory from Frenchman Paul Georgenthum with team mate Leo Bergere third in a thrilling photo finish.
It was Walkington’s best result from his 10 starts in the Series which saw him debut in 13th place at Abu Dhabi in 2017 - his first since Yokohama in 2019.
Coming off his French GP racing, Walkington clocked 53 mins 27 secs over the Sprint Distance course in the streets of downtown Hamburg, coming out of the swim narrowly behind Australian teammate Brandon Copeland, who was 14th overall in 53.39.
The Australian boys were chasing the whole race and Walkington’s five km run split the 10th fastest of the day as he charged home, in what is an encouraging performance, while Copeland admitting he missed a great opportunity.
“Every race has a critical point and for me yesterday it was coming into T2. I wasn’t able to position myself where I needed to be and I suffered on the run with a stitch from the effort of the first km to catch the front group,” a disappointed Copeland said after the race.
“Fourteenth isn’t a terrible result, but I still feel like I missed a great opportunity.”
In the women’s race, Natalie Van Coevorden was best of the Australians in 15th, followed by Kira Hedgeland (28th), Emma Jackson (29th) and Charlotte McShane (32nd).
Germany’s Junior and U23 World Champion, 25 year old Laura Lindemann won her maiden WTCS race shining from the beginning to claim her first ever Series victory with New Zealand’s Nicole Van Der Kaay wrapping up her first WTS podium in second ahead of USA’s Summer Rappaport.
Van Coevorden, lined up for her eighth Hamburg appearance in front of what she describes now as “a home crowd.”
“I had one of my fastest runs ever on this course (16:57) but I really lost the race yesterday when my helmet bounced out of the box and I lost critical seconds to the group in T2,” said Van Coevorden.
“Racing is getting faster and faster and the more you throw yourself in the deep end, the more I know where I need to improve.
“But it was nice to be back in the city in front of a home crowd for me. I have lived in Hamburg a lot the past two years and it has really turned into a place I call home.”
The Australians also produced a barnstorming finish in the Mixed Teams Relay with Van Coevorden, Walkington, Hedgeland and Copeland combing for a close up 7th with Copeland and Great Britain’s young gun Connor Bentley throwing themselves at the line – the electronic timing unable to separate them – but judges awarding GBR sixth and Australia seventh - in a classic photo finish.
Copeland relieved to put together a big finish and putting his individual race behind him, digging deep for Team Australia.
The German team capped a perfect weekend for the home country taking the win from Italy and Denmark.
HAMBURG WASSER 2021 World Triathlon Championship Series Hamburg Results:
World Triathlon Sprint & Relay Championships Scheduled for October 15-17 in Bermuda will not take place in 2021
In other World Triathlon news, it was also announced over the weekend that after extensive discussions with Bermuda’s health and government authorities, the Bermuda Local Organising Committee and World Triathlon have made the difficult decision that the 2021 World Triathlon Sprint & Relay Championship set down for October 15 to 17 will not take place this year.
In a statement organisers said: “Changing conditions on the ground demanded that the programme’s safety plan be reviewed. Using a tool provided by the World Health Organisation (WHO), the Organising Committee and the World Triathlon conducted a risk assessment on the event. The analysis considered the island’s recent spike in Covid-19 infections in addition to the Bermuda Hospital’s elevated Covid-19 patient intake, and the Organising Committee in consultation with World Triathlon made the decision not to proceed with the October event. The health and safety of all athletes, coaches, staff, contractors, volunteers, and the people of the island was the primary consideration.”