Yeah-ha! England claim first Commonwealth Games gold as Alex Yee adds to his Olympic silver with a brilliant finish in the men’s triathlon – and is congratulated by runner-up Hayden Wilde…during the race!
- Tokyo 2020 Olympic star Alex Yee won the Games’ first gold medal
- Yee won the men’s triathlon title ahead of New Zealand’s Hayden Wilde
- The Englishman, 24, benefited from a 10-second penalty awarded to Wilde
- Yee described the Birmingham win as the ‘greatest achievement’ of his career
One by one, Alex Yee caught them all. Dying in the water, resurrected on his bike and a speed demon in his shoes, he broke their escape and then he broke their spirit.
By the time he reached the level of the Last of the Damned, Hayden Wilde, his great rival and close friend knew the game was over, and so he could only smile and offer a pat on the back as Yee passed.
With it, this 24-year-old player from Lewisham offered England its first gold medal of these Games and a reminder, if necessary, that the Brownlees have their successor, here and further afield.
Alex Yee hailed the biggest achievement of his career after winning men’s triathlon gold
Yee was able to stand and enjoy the moment before taking the band to Birmingham
Some will question the value of the prizes on this stage, but not those who know triathlon, and certainly not those who know Wilde. There are always cheaper medals to be found at the Commonwealth Games, but the New Zealander is not an easy target – he is world number 2 and he won bronze at the Tokyo Olympics.
But he lost silver to Yee in Japan and he was beaten to gold by him at this park a little north of Birmingham. And what a race it was, marred only in part by Wilde’s realization on the 5k run that he would have to serve a 10-second penalty for unclipping his helmet too soon in the second transition. But even then, he knew it would be academic – Yee was going to catch him anyway.
That from a 15-second miss after the 750m swim and likewise after the 20km cycle, times that saw Yee 16th out of the water and only fifth heading into the race. It’s important to realize at this point that Wilde is a very good runner over the distance – his best on a track is 13:29 and he’s even flirted with the idea of qualifying for the athletics portion of the Games.
But Yee is a little faster – fast enough to be a full-fledged international racer and the best on the roads in his sport. And so he took the race back to him, and then he took it away from them, finally passing Wilde in the final kilometer and collapsing to the ground after 50 minutes and 34 seconds. It was then that he declared it to be his greatest achievement, surpassing his Olympic silver medal and the gold he won in the team event.
“It’s a home Games and it’s the first time I’ve been able to race in front of my parents in a long time,” he said. “I would probably say that’s my greatest moment.
New Zealand’s Hayden Wilde was forced to settle for silver after incurring a 10-second penalty
The duo shared a moment of sportsmanship after Wilde’s penalty announcement
“I don’t think there will be an opportunity in my life to start over. Starting this year, that was my big goal. There is a world title to be won, but for me, I really identified that.
While Wilde officially protested his 10-second penalty, there was no concern from Yee – even without that assist he had three seconds on the Kiwi. When that was done, they hugged, which probably fits what they call “Friendly Games”.
“We’re great friends on and off the course, so it’s really special to share times like this with people,” Yee said.
“When we spoke towards the end, we just said well done to each other. I said, “I’m sorry you got a penalty, man,” because everybody wants to see a sprint finish, everybody wants to see an exciting race. But there will be many more battles along the way.
Yee trailed after the bike section of the race before returning to the race for gold
Together, their rivalry is already said to be one of the most compelling in triathlon in recent years, in addition to the fact that it was an accident caused by Wilde earlier this year that led one of Yee’s heroes, Jonny Brownlee, to miss the Games. here with injury. As the training partner of Jonny and retired two-time Olympic gold medalist Alistair, Yee has achieved a certain level of revenge, not that he’s one to see it that way.
Four hours later, Georgia Taylor-Brown, who won individual silver and team gold alongside Yee and Jonny Brownlee in Tokyo, again finished second in the women’s triathlon. The 28-year-old tied for the lead in swimming and cycling with Olympic champion Flora Duffy of Bermuda but withered while running.
She said: ‘I just didn’t have the legs today. I felt flat all day, so I’m very happy with the money. I kinda miss being second to Flora all the time, so we need to change that.
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