NZ's challenge fades in men's triathlon

TONY SMITH IN LONDON
Last updated 01:32 08/08/2012
Bevan Docherty
Reuters
ON YA BIKE: New Zealand's Bevan Docherty heads out on the cycle leg during the men's Olympic triathlon. Docherty finished 12th in his third Olympics.

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New Zealander Bevan Docherty was just over 10 seconds slower than the old Olympic Games record in finishing 12th in the London Games triathlon today.

Docherty - still the only male triathlete to win medals at two consecutive Olympics after silver in Athens in 2004 and bronze at Beijing in 2008 - finished in 1hr 48min 35sec.

The top-11 finishers broke the former record set by Canada's Simon Whitfield when triathlon made its bow at the 2000 Olympic Games in Sydney.

Manawatu's Kris Gemmell was 15th in 1hr 48min 52sec and New Zealand rookie Ryan Sissons was 33rd overall in 1hr 50min 27sec after struggling on the swimming stage.

New Zealand triathlon coach Greg Fraine said Docherty and Gemmell, both 35, had "done themselves proud'' on an extremely fast course based around London's Hyde Park.

The race was won by Great Britain's Alistair Brownlee, with Spain's former world champion Javier Gomez second and Brownlee's younger brother Jonathan, who served a 15sec penalty during the run, third.

Alistair Brownlee set an unofficial Olympic record, finishing in 1hr 46min 25sec.

After the second lap, the front three - the Brownlees and Gomez - had a 27-second gap on Frenchmen David Hauss and Laurent Vidal, the partner and coach of top New Zealand woman triathlete Andrea Hewitt.  Hauss finished fourth and Vidal fifth.

The Kiwis' challenge faded during the first two laps of the 10km run, with Docherty 12th and Gemmell one place back until he was overtaken on the final stretch by Russia's Ivan Vasiliev and American veteran Hunter Kemper.

The pair were in a chasing bunch which caught the five-man front group midway through the 40km cycle leg.

Gemmell was second off the bike into the second transition phase and Docherty 20th. But Gemmell had a slow transition and was only ninth away on the run.

The Brownlees, the pre-race favourites, and Gomez broke away to build up a sizeable lead on the first lap of the run around Hyde Park.

Sissons, dropped to 50th on the cycle.

Earlier, the three New Zealanders were in the top 35 after the swim leg.

Docherty was 23rd, Gemmell right beside him in 24th and Sissons was 32nd after the first stage of the course based around London's Hyde Park.

Docherty and Gemmell, whose careers have paralleled each other for more than a decade, were next to each on the pontoon at the start of the swim.

They were 30sec behind the leaders, Richard Varga (Slovakia), Alessandro Fabian (Italy), Gomez and the Brownlee brothers. Sissons was 1min 10sec behind.

Organisers announced around 200,000 people were crammed around the course, 50 deep in parts of Hyde Park, to watch the triathlon, which has 56 entrants.

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- Fairfax Media

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