England captured a golden double in Para triathlon’s debut at the Gold 2018 Commonwealth Games on Saturday (7 April).
The third morning of competition could not have been better for English duo Joe Townsend and Jade Jones in the men’s and women’s Para triathlon events, finishing just 12 minutes apart to win their respective races.
Townsend, a former Royal Marine Commando, came from a long way behind in the swim leg to hit the front in the transition from bike to run, before flashing home to cross the line in 1:02:39.
Australia’s Nic Beveridge opened up a sizeable advantage in the swim and held his ground throughout the bike leg, before securing silver with a 1:03:28.
Pre-race favourite Bill Chaffey, also of Australia, had a major crash from second place midway through the bike phase, breaking the left pedal and instantly dashing his hopes of victory.
Chaffey pushed on to finish with the bronze medal in a time of 1:04:13.
However, it was a perfect day for Townsend.
“Everything I planned, I did, so I am really happy. I kept the gaps well in the swim and when I knew that worked, I knew the race was mine,” he said.
“Swimming was always going to be my weakest discipline and I knew that I was strong in the cycling, so I just needed to keep my cool.
“As soon as I was into the second triathlon in the lead, I knew I was on target.
“If you look at the quality in the field, there’s world champions and top athletes, so you can’t take away the intensity in a top venue, so yes I’m really happy.”
In the women’s event, Jones had to make up almost a four-minute compensation, before working her way through the field to win by 1:49 in an overall time of 1:11:07.
Jones found her way past Australian competitors Lauren Parker and Emily Tapp to record a memorable victory.
Parker was unable to sustain her early lead as Tapp moved into the silver medal position with a 1:12:56, and, despite a lapse of concentration, which saw her hit the wall on the final stretch to the finish line, Parker claimed her first Para triathlon medal with bronze in a time of 1:13:48.
Speaking after her win, Jones admitted it was mentally tough because she was chasing for the majority of the race.
“I swam really well and I have been working on my swimming for the past six months,” Jones said.
"I have only been doing Para triathlon for 18 months, and, although I have made a lot of improvements, I still have a long way to go.
"I caught Lauren Parker on the second run lap, but anything can happen, so I didn't celebrate until I crossed the finish line.”
Jones will take some time to reflect on her triumph and recover, before beginning her marathon preparations.