7 April 2018
Townsend and Jones take their opportunity Down Under
Golden English double
Paralympians Joe Townsend and Jade Jones secured an English double as paratriathlon made its debut at the Commonwealth Games.
And not to be outdone, paracyclists Sophie Thornhill and Helen Scott and Neil Fachie and Matt Rotherham each picked up their second golds of the Games with James Ball and Peter Mitchell taking silver.
Former Marine Commando Townsend finished sixth at the Rio 2016 Paralympic Games two years ago but showed his podium class with a bronze at last year’s World Triathlon Grand Final.
And he upgraded in style on the Gold Coast, beating a strong home challenge including five-time world champion Bill Chaffey – his winning margin nearly a minute after a 750m swim, 20km bike and 5km wheelchair race. Fellow Englishman Mark Conway was fourth with Northern Ireland’s David Kerr sixth.
“It was my perfect race, everything I planned happened when I wanted it to,” he said.
“I kept the gap as small as possible on the swim and once I started catching guys on the bike I was pretty confident the race was mine. It feels amazing to execute so perfectly and to get this gold medal around my neck.
“The field was small but the calibre was really high, I’ve beaten a five-time world champion to win this, which means a lot.”
A victorious Jade Jones
Decision vindicated for Jones
Meanwhile, Jones’ decision to switch from wheelchair racing to triathlon paid dividends.
The manner of her victory was dominant, securing a winning margin of nearly two minutes over Australian silver medallist Emily Tapp, with Karen Darke fourth for Scotland and Lizzie Tench fifth for England.
And two-time Paralympian Jones will now try to add to her medal tally in another sport - taking on the wheelchair marathon next weekend.
“I’ve always wanted a go at triathlon and after Rio I decided that had to be the time to make the transition,” she said.
“Training has been going so well and I’m loving the variation of the sport, this is my main focus now.”
With the recent UCI Para-cycling Track World Championships and now the Commonwealth Games, it’s been a busy time for Thornhill and Scott.
But they signed off in style, clinching their second gold on the Gold Coast in the women’s B&VI 1000m time trial – in an new world record time of 1:04.623.
More track delight for Team England
Paracyclists on a roll
Silver went to Australia with Scotland’s Aileen McGlynn and Louise Haston third fastest.
“To come away with four gold and four world records is just insane. Everyone kept saying we were going to break it, we’re over the moon, we can’t believe it,” said Thornhill.
“The trust I have in Helen definitely came out in the second sprint match. For me I trust her 100 per cent.
“The way we’re going to go quick is to trust her and let her do her thing. I just have to sit there and pedal hard.”
Fachie and Rotherham also made it two from two in the gold medal stakes Down Under, as they beat Welsh riders James Ball and Peter Mitchell in the men’s B&VI sprint over two races.
“We haven’t been on the bike together for long - only since about December - but we gel together and we’re way ahead of where we thought we would be,” admitted Fachie, who now has four Commonwealth titles to his name after defending the titles he won at Glasgow 2014 alongside Craig Maclean.
In the pool, England’s Jacob Leach swam a personal best 1:25.35 in the men’s SB8 100m
breaststroke final to place fifth behind Australian champion Timothy Disken.
And Toni Shaw was sixth in the women’s SM10 200m individual medley with fellow Scot Beth Johnston competing in the morning heats.
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