The Commonwealth Games only comes around once every four years and with triathlon missing out in Delhi it has been eight years since the last one where Australian’s Emma Snowsill and Brad Kahldefelt dominated the races. Like the Olympics, the Commonwealth Games is such a rare occasion and an opportunity that you may never have again. Knowing this adds a bit more pressure to the race as you want to make the most of it and get the best result possible as this could be the only chance you have. But this is what makes both of these events special and different from anything else.
I arrived in Glasgow Sunday with my fellow Australian triathlon team mates and we headed straight into the village as this was where we were staying prior and post our race. The village is quite large as it has to accommodate thousands of athletes and support staff but Australia had a great position towards the front, close to the 24/7 dining hall, exit and transport mall. Our uniform bags were waiting in our rooms for our arrival so it felt like Christmas opening up all our gear and trying it on. We were very fortunate to get a great range of kit from the Australian team supplier.
Monday was the first opportunity I had to see the race course and train over it. My initial impression was that it was going to be hard, very hard! The swim had a short 200m until the first turn buoy and the bike and run were both hilly which would make it tough. Since we were staying in the village and not out near the race site like some countries the trip out to see the course was quite a lengthy process. Firstly our bikes were loaded onto a truck at 6:20am which thankfully our support staff did for us to save us getting up extra early to do it ourselves. The bus to the race site departed at 7:30am for the 20 minute journey and once we arrived on site we had to pass through a security check and X-ray machine to ensure we weren’t bringing in anything dangerous. We weren’t allowed onto the course until 9:00am so we filled in the hour of waiting around by getting our bikes and wheels checked out by the technical officials making sure the logo sizes were compliant with the rules. My Specialized Amira and Roval wheels passed the check without any issues. We were then allowed onto each part of the course to train at specific times. Once finished we headed back to the village in time for lunch, a short massage and to get ready to catch the bus to the official Australian Team Welcome Ceremony in the lovely Kelvin Grove Museum in Glasgow City Centre.
Tuesday was similar to Monday where we went out to the race site to train. We also had athlete briefing and all our other equipment such as shoes, helmets, sunglasses, wetsuit, race suit etc checked to make sure they were also compliant with the logo rules. After a busy 2 days of commitments and travel it was great to be in the village most of the day on Wednesday to rest up for the following day’s race.
Before I knew it my alarm was going off Thursday morning to get up and race. In the weeks leading up to the race I was expecting it to be cold and wet but to my surprise race day was quite the opposite, hot and sunny. The water had warmed up considerably over the past few days so the swim was called non wetsuit and unfortunately my custom made Huub wetsuit didn’t get to make it to the start line. From the start I found the swim very fast and at the half way mark I could tell I was at the back end of the lead pack. The second lap I was swimming as hard as I could to not lose the leaders feet and stay in touch into T1. Coming towards the end of the swim it looked like the group had stretched out a bit but I was still swimming on some feet so I wasn’t panicking just yet. I ended up exiting the water right at the tail end of the lead group and unaware that the next athlete was over 25 seconds behind me.
Onto the bike I was at least a few seconds down on the next girl in front and could just see a small group of athletes forming ahead in pursuit of the leaders. I knew if I didn’t get on to this group then my chances of a podium would be gone. I rode hard to make the chase group just before two girls in the pack crashed after the U turn. I found myself chasing solo once again but thankfully caught the newly formed lead pack up the climb. It was a hard effort but I was so relieved I was back in the race. During the remainder of the ride I dealt with a couple of issues but due to this found myself in a much better position in the pack at times which is far more economical than my usual positioning. It felt good to sit up the front and I know this is something I will strive to do more of in my racing as it will enhance my performance and allow me to take my racing up to the next level, turning a weakness into a strength. I was happy that I mentally pushed myself in the back half of the bike to be more towards the front and maybe next time I might even lead into transition, you never know! I know I am improving in every race and I want to continue to do this and not have everyone watching the race on TV viewing the Jackson derrier!
Running out of T2 I didn’t feel great but hoped my legs would start to feel better as the run progressed. I found the first two of three laps comfortable and was in a great position in the lead group of 5 heading i n t o the final 3km. Unfortunately I wasn’t feeling as comfortable as I thought as I couldn’t respond when Jodie increased the pace and I dropped off the lead group. The lead three increased their lead over the final stages of the run and I tried to get back to 4th place but Andrea was too strong so I crossed the line in 5th. I am a bit disappointed with the result as who wouldn’t want to be on the podium at a Commonwealth Games but this has made me even more determined to do it next time in front of a home crowd on the Gold Coast. A huge congrats to all the girls who raced, especially Jodie for a well-deserved win, Kirsten and Vicky for 2nd and 3rd and Andrea for 4th.
The Games weren’t quite over just yet as for the first time the mixed team relay was featuring. I was lucky enough to be selected in the team for the Saturday race along with Moffy, Aaron and Ryan. It would have been great to have Ash and Wilson in our team too but unfortunately it is only a team of 4. Saturday greeted us once again with a surprisingly sunny day. Moffy lead us off and tagged Aaron with a bit of time to make up on the leaders. Aaron had a fantastic leg getting us back into contention in 5th place and not far off the teams in front. I was up next and was quite nervous as the last thing I wanted to do was let the team down. Exiting T1,
England and NZ were in front and I was with Team Canada and South Africa. It was a short but hard ride working with Canadian Sarah Anne and the run was no easier. Ryan had a great individual race finishing 5th but he was up against the 3rd and 4th place getters from South Africa and Canada in the final leg. All I wanted to do was get him as much of a lead as I possibly could on them and take a bit of the pressure off. I tagged him just ahead of Canada and South Africa and the three of them were in hot pursuit of the two teams ahead. Into T2 it was England up ahead with the next four teams including Aus coming in together. I don’t know if I was more nervous for my own leg or watching Ryan run but he did amazing and ran us into 3rd place. It was a great experience standing on the podium with my fellow team members and I was so happy to get a Commonwealth Games bronze medal! It was even better to have my Mum there who is my biggest supporter and also my aunty, uncle and cousins who also came from Australia to watch.
I spent the next couple days in the village training and I got the opportunity to watch the swimming as well which was great. I heard the Australian national anthem quite a few times that night and the swimmers were doing Australia proud. My Commonwealth Games experience finished Tuesday as I headed back to France to continue training for the Edmonton Grand Final less than 5 weeks away. I will never forget the week I had in Glasgow and if anything it has made me more determined than ever to make another Olympic and Commonwealth Games Australian team.
I would like to thank Triathlon Australia, Queensland Academy of Sport and my coach Steve Moss for allowing me the opportunity to compete for Australia and also to my sponsors Scody, Specialized, Subaru, Asics, Endura, Oakley, Huub, Aquadiva & Injinji as without your support and great products I wouldn’t be able to do what I do.