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Sunday, 4 August, 2002, 12:29 GMT 13:29 UK

Whitfield claims Commonwealth title

By John Haughey
BBC Sport Online in Manchester

Canada's Simon Whitfield added Commonwealth gold to his Olympic title from Sydney in Sunday's men's triathlon in Manchester.

The Olympic champion produced a storming 10 kilometre run to overturn long-time leader Chris McCormack's minute advantage after the cycling leg.

"When you come off the bike, you never know what's going to happen"
Simon Whitfield

Whitfield came home in 1:51:57, which left him just ahead of the fast-finishing Australian Miles Stewart and New Zealand's Hamish Carter.

England's former world champion Simon Lessing was just out of the medals in fourth place.

"To be the Olympic champion, Commonwealth champion, it's brilliant," said the Canadian.

"When you come off the bike, you never know what's going to happen.

"It's a great feeling to win gold. I've been here long enough and trained hard to get here so this is fantastic.

"Chris McCormack and Stuart Hayes did a fantastic job in the cycling and they dictated the race.

"But my girlfriend told me a Muhammad Ali quote that 'the work is done long before you dance under the lights' which helped, and that's what's happened here today."

England's Stuart Hayes had been first out of the water after the 1.5km swim in 18:01, but he was quickly followed by a group of around 15 athletes.

Those close to the leader ahead of the 41km bike ride included Hayes' compatriot Lessing, plus Whitfield and Australian Peter Robertson.

Initially, the group dithered, apparently in the hope that Australian cycling specialist McCormack would instigate some pace.

Robertson, Stewart and Carter made a break on the second lap of the cycling course but were quickly swallowed up by the chasing group.

Hayes attacked on the same lap and was joined at the front by Australian McCormack.

Conditions were becoming treacherous for the cyclists, with rain falling again after troubling the field in the earlier women's event.

McCormack and Hayes had increased their lead to 39 seconds with one circuit of the four-lap cycling course remaining.

The gap was beginning to look extremely significant, with McCormack also a strong runner.

The 1997 world champion was timed at 1:19.44 as he began his run, which left him two seconds clear of Hayes.

The chasers - led by New Zealand's Kris Gemmell - were almost exactly a minute in arrears, making McCormack a strong favourite at that stage.

McCormack fades

However, Olympic champion Whitfield made serious inroads into Hayes as the Englishman began to struggle on the run and soon went into second.

Such was the Canadian's pace, McCormack's lead was whittled down to 12 seconds by the end of the first running lap.

Nearing the end of the second circuit, Whitfield moved past the Australian with Miles Stewart and Hamish Carter chasing hard in third and fourth.

Sure enough, long-time leader McCormack did drop out of the medal placings just after the start of the final lap with Carter and Stewart now charging.

England's former world champion Simon Lessing also made a late challenge for a medal.

He moved ahead of McCormack midway through the final circuit, but could not catch the leaders.


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