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Last Updated: Thursday, 26 August, 2004, 14:32 GMT 15:32 UK
The trials of a triathlete
By Andrew Fraser
BBC Sport in Athens

Hamish Carter

They say triathletes are the iron men of sport.

So there will be a fair few Kiwis walking around with a swagger this weekend after Hamish Carter and Bevan Docherty took gold and silver in the men's Olympic event.

The New Zealand team-mates emerged as the toughest of the tough after a gruelling swim, bike and run over a course regarded by most as the hardest ever seen.

Carter even insisted afterwards that he had enjoyed the race.

But he would say that, having ended up with a gold medal around his neck and seen his Australian rival Greg Bennett finish fourth for good measure.

Britain's Marc Jenkins, on the other hand, was close to tears after finishing last of the 45 men who made it to the finish.

But Jenkins, who carried his bike over his shoulder and continued on foot after his back wheel broke in a collision, can return home with his head held high.

The 28-year-old from Bridgend, whose nickname is Jinx, reckoned he had run for about 1.5km up a hill in his cycling shoes before the reinforcements arrived.

Jenkins had only been called into the team a few weeks ago after Paul Amey fractured his pelvis in a bike crash.

"What he did was awesome," said gold medallist Carter of Jenkins' Herculean effort.

"It is indicative of triathlon. Every athlete has worked so hard to be here and doesn't want to let their country down.

Marc Jenkins
What Jenkins did was awesome - it is indicative of triathlon
Gold medallist Hamish Carter on Britain's Marc Jenkins
"I can really understand what he did. Most of us would not let anything stop us."

Jenkins' British team-mate Andrew Johns admitted he had "blown all his biscuits" on the 40km bike ride as he tried to force his way into medal contention.

Johns had been part of a six-man breakaway going into the final 10km run, but faded in the burning Athens heat to finish 16th.

"It's always a tough event but this course is probably the toughest I've done in my career," Johns told the BBC Sport website.

"The hills and the heat - everything about it was tough.

"Those boys were pushing hard and fair play to them. They were so strong."

The competition had been just as fierce in the women's event on Wednesday, with Austria's Kate Allen staging a late charge to take gold.

Britain's Michelle Dillon complained afterwards that a rival had grabbed the zip on her wetsuit during the swim to hold her back.

"These things happen. It's how you deal with it. It's all part of triathlon," said Britain's Tim Don, who finished 18th in the men's race.

"It's fine when you're swimming in a straight line but when you are going round buoys it can get a bit hairy. Everyone wants to get from A to B as quick as possible.

"Triathlon is a tough race. It's an hour and 50 minutes, almost as long as a marathon.

"But respect to every sport, whether it be marathon running, table tennis or track and field.

"With the competition and the hype, it's just a tough day at the office for every Olympic athlete."

Links to more Triathlon stories



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