By Mark Etheridge┬áin London
Halfway through the swim leg of the Olympic men’s triathlon our Richard Murray knew he was in trouble.
Stuck on his own in troubled Serpintine waters, the leaders were splashing away from him… but Murray is a man who much like famous Briton Winston Churchill all those years ago ÔÇô will never surrender.
He went on bridge the gap to the second chasing group on the cycle leg and then in his specialty code, the run, stormed through to eventually finish 17th overall at the historic Hyde Park venue.
Covering the 1500m swim, 42-kilometre cycle and 10km run leg in 1hr 49min 15sec, he ended 2:50 behind British winner Alistair Brownlee. Spain’s Javier Gomez was second, 11sec back and the other Brownlee brother Jonathan got bronze, 31sec off the pace.
The race was watched by an enormous crowd estimated at between 250,0000 and 300,000 as the route wound it’s way around historic London. Triathlon is one of the few Olympic codes at these Games where a large number of free tickets are available to spectators.
Afterwards Murray said it had all gone wrong on the swim. “I’ve done a lot of work on my swim but clearly there’s a lot more to do. I knew halfway into the swim that I was in trouble. I was the guy swimming by myself for close on 600m. I worked very hard to catch the guys but then ended up bumping into the guys who were slowing down.”
He exited the water in 43rd spot 1:07 back and on the bike he was always playing catch-up but managed to haul in the second chasing group. “After that swim I came out and I was on the limit but I think I had a good bike, probably the hardest bike leg I’ve ever had, but I did well.”
Despite making up 19 spots on the bike by the time he started the run he was 1:31 off the lead and notwithstanding it being his best code, he was never going to make p that sort of lead on the elite of world triathlon.
Still he managed to reel in six places to end a very creditable 17th in his first Olympic triathlon. Testimony to his running talent is that despite expending valuable energy on the swimming and biking leg he still had the 10th fastest run on the day, a quick 30:25.
“I came here to obviously take part in my first Olympic triathlon and show myself that I belonged here and I don’t think 17th out of 55 of the world’s best guys is bad at all.
“I wanted to hurt myself as much as possible and I sure did that!
“At the start of the season I still wasn’t sure that I’d even be here at the Olympics so just to get here was great. Beforehand I thought to myself that if had an absolute shocker I’d end around 45-48th but if everything went well I’d make top 10 and a perfect race would probably have given me top five.”
He also said it would have been nice to have more than one South African spot at the event. “I thought about it some time ago and it would have been quite nice to have a kind of ‘domestique’ [worker] in the race but that just didn’t happen. We knew for a while now that the Brownlees would work together and it’s tough to counteract that.”
But already the Cape Town youngster is looking ahead, four years down the line. “People must remember that this is only my third year as a professional triathlete. Rio 2016 is four years away and the work starts for that as from now!”
South African based Zimbabwean Chris Felgate was also in the Olympic line-up and ended 52nd (1:53:53). “It was tough but what an experience to compete at the Olympics..”
Earlier in the Games our two women triathletes, Gill Sanders and Kate Roberts ended 19th and 22nd respectively in their event.