The cold and the Brownlees proved too good for the Kiwis at the Grand Final of the Dextro Energy ITU World Championships in Beijing today with none of the men able to crack the top 8 and with it secure a place at the London Olympic Games.
Beijing at this time of year is meant to be 28 degrees and humid, this morning dawned cold and damp and it didn’t improve much through the day with a number of athletes struggling to retain body heat on the demanding Beijing course.
Not so the British Brownlee brothers though with older brother Alistair winning in impressive fashion after an 8km running duel with brother Jonathan before surging to win comfortably. Sven Reiderer (SUI) overtook a tiring Jonathan for second in sight of the finish line.
Best of the Kiwis was Ryan Sissons in 14th, a continuation for a strong season by the 23 year old as his day went largely to plan.
“I raced as I wanted to today; I had a really good swim and was right there from the start. I knew this course and the bike suited me, I knew I just wanted to stay near the front, I knew the run was going to be hard. I was so, so cold and I was shaking but I knew everyone was in the same boat. I came off the bike and felt really good straight away; I was happy about that and just got into it.
“I ran with Bevan and Simon (Whitfield) most of the way and then Simon kicked on so I went with him, it was a nice even pace the whole way. In the end I am really happy with the way I finished off in the Grand Final and I’m hoping now to go on and secure a place at the Olympics next year.”
For Docherty though it was a disappointment as he continues to pursue his third Olympic Games team. It was a typically honest Docherty post race after finishing 18th.
“For a summer sport we’ve certainly had some bad luck with the weather. It’s a little bit frustrating, I felt good on the bike, the only problem was on the downhill I was freezing up. I pushed it on the uphill to try and keep warm but as soon as I got out on to the run I just couldn’t feel my body and couldn’t get into a decent rhythm. It’s frustrating, but what can you do.
“Obviously it sucks that we all have to go for the spots in Sydney next year, It would be great to have them all wrapped up and focus on what is at hand. But, what can you do, we haven’t achieved it, it is frustrating and we just have to keep plugging away.”
Docherty hasn’t given up on a place in London though, indeed it was a mark of the class of the athlete that immediately after the race he was already thinking not only of himself, but of the team and ensuring three spots for New Zealand as one of the top 8 nations in the rankings.
“I still have a few races, it is too early in the season to pull the pin now, so try and get some points and hopefully qualify that third spot for the team, to help out the team. I just want to finish the season on a high, I have another race in Yokohama this weekend, hopefully it is a little warmer there and I can have a decent result.”
Kris Gemmell perhaps suffered more than most with the cold, despite working hard and featuring near the front throughout the bike, the Palmerston North triathlete knew he was in trouble.
“I have never been so cold. We would work hard in a group on the bike but then lose any gains on the downhill but I was struggling to feel my feet and couldn’t find any rhythm on the run.”
James Elvery withdrew early on the bike after emerging from the water in the lead group. Elvery awoke this morning suffering from diarrhoea and a fever and grew steadily worse during the race before having to call it a day. Clark Ellice was another to withdraw while Martin Van Barneveld finished down the field.