Triathlon in Sport Focus

April 16, 2020

Marc Austin went down in history as the first athlete to win a Triathlon medal for Scotland at a Commonwealth Games as he took bronze at Gold Coast 2018. Two years on from that triumph, the sport steps into the spotlight of our ‘Celebrating Our Past, Building Our Future’ Sport Focus, which features all 25 sports in which Scotland has competed at the Commonwealth Games.

Look out for everything Triathlon related on our website and social media channels in the coming weeks as we delve into the archives for tales of past success and look ahead to Birmingham 2022.

Triathlon at the Commonwealth Games

A demonstration sport at Auckland 1990, Triathlon has made four Commonwealth Games appearances since its official debut at Manchester 2002. Originally an optional sport, it has since been elevated to a core sport which must be included at each Games. Para-Triathlon, now an optional discipline, made its debut in Gold Coast and will return for Birmingham 2022. The Para-Triathlon classification included on the programme may change from Games to Games.

Glasgow 2014 saw the addition of the Mixed Team Relay alongside the Men’s and Women’s Individual events. This innovative event sees athletes complete a super-sprint triathlon with teams consisting of four athletes: two women and two men. Each athlete is required to complete a course of 250m open water swim, 7km cycle and 1.5km run, before tagging their team mate.

Eight nations have won medals in Commonwealth Games Triathlon. Australia have the highest medal tally with 12, while England boast the most gold medals with five. At Gold Coast 2018 Flora Duffy won the first gold of the Games in the Women’s Individual Triathlon, taking Bermuda’s first Triathlon medal of any colour and becoming her country’s first ever female gold medallist.

Scotland’s Competitors

Three men and three women were selected to represent Scotland on the sport’s Commonwealth Games debut at Manchester 2002. Unfortunately Sydney Olympian and World Duathlon champion Steph Forrester had to withdraw before the race through injury with team mates Catriona Morrison and Bella Comerford going on to finish 13th and 14th. In the men’s event the top finisher was Rich Allen in 12th with Andrew Fargus and Kevin Clark taking 15th and 16th.

At Melbourne 2006 Catriona Morrison was back in the team having taken silver at the 2005 World Duathlon Championships and was joined in the women’s event by Kerry Lang. Lang got off to a strong start in her favoured swimming component, reaching the transition point in third place. But a problem with the strap on her cycling helmet meant she dropped well down the field. For Morrison a disappointing swim left her too much ground to claw back, although she did manage to climb from 21st to 15th place in the run including passing friend and team mate Lang who finished in 18th spot.

Following an absence at the Delhi 2010 Games, Triathlon returned to the programme for Glasgow 2014 with events held at the scenic Strathclyde Country Park. A strong swim and a breakaway in the early stages of the bike leg by 20-year old Marc Austin gave local crowds hope that a Scot might join England’s dominant Brownlee brothers on the podium. However the pace set proved too much for Austin who faded in the second half of the 40km ride. In the end, first Scot home was David McNamee in 7th, with Grant Sheldon in 14th and Austin in 22nd. Two days later Scotland’s Natalie Milne, Grant Sheldon, Seonaid Thompson and David McNamee joined forces for the Mixed Team Relay. Roared on by fantastic home support, the quartet clocked a collective one hour, seventeen minutes and 50 seconds to finish seventh.

Gold Coast proved a fantastic watershed for Triathlon Scotland, as Marc Austin put in an inspirational performance to claim bronze in the Men’s Individual event, ahead of World and Olympic medallists Alistair and Jonathan Brownlee, for Team Scotland’s first medal of the Games and a first ever Triathlon medal at the Commonwealth Games. 2017 World University Championships gold medallist Grant Sheldon finished 17th while in the women’s event Beth Potter was 12th. Better known as a track endurance athlete, running at both the Rio 2016 Olympic Games and 2017 World Athletics Championships, she went on to run the 10,000m on the track to become the first athlete to compete in two sports for Team Scotland at a single Games.

In the Mixed Team Relay, Beth Potter, Marc Austin, Erin Wallace and Grant Sheldon put up a great fight against some quality opposition, eventually finishing in seventh place, equalling the performance in Glasgow. As Para-Triathlon made its debut Scotland was represented by Paralympic Handcycling gold medallist Karen Darke who produced the second fastest bike split to move from fifth after the swim into fourth.

Find out more about Triathlon in the Commonwealth Games on our dedicated Triathlon page.

Scotland at the Commonwealth Games

The Commonwealth Games is the only occasion where Scotland gets to compete in a multi-sport event as a nation in its own right and is one of only six countries to have competed in every Commonwealth Games since their inception in Hamilton in 1930. Represented by 15 athletes participating in six sports at those first Games, winning a very creditable 10 medals, Scotland have gone on to win medals at every Games since.

Edinburgh became the first city to hold the Games twice in 1970 and 1986 and also became the first city to host the Commonwealth Youth Games.

Scotland hosted the Games for a third time when Glasgow welcomed athletes and officials to the XXth Commonwealth Games which was held from 23rd July – 3rd August 2014. Team Scotland celebrated their most successful Games in history, winning a total of 53 medals and went on to record their highest overseas medal tally ever at Gold Coast 2018.

Find out more about the Commonwealth Games and Team Scotland’s past success in our Past Games section.

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