MARC Austin has won Team Scotland’s first medal of the 2018 Commonwealth Games in Gold Coast with a superb bronze in the men’s triathlon.
The 24-year-old Glaswegian took the surprise medal behind gold medal winner Henri Schoeman of South Africa and Australia’s Jacob Birtwhistle, who claimed silver as England’s superstar Brownlee brothers suffered a shock defeat as they failed to make the podium.
Defending champion Alistair, the England flagbearer, fell out of contention at the start of the run, eventually coming 10th, while Jonny finished seventh in one of the brothers’ worst days.
Austin, meanwhile, said: “I was obviously scared to dream about that kind of thing because it’s way beyond what I’ve done before but I knew I was capable of it. I thought, ‘I could beat the Brownlees here’.”
Austin had finished 22nd in the event in Glasgow and admitted it was the “performance in his life” to storm among the medals in Australia, That finishing place in his home city masks the fact that he had a crack at the Brownlees that day, before eventually blowing up. But the ambition he showed that day makrked him out as one to watch in the future and he lived up to that spectacularly on the Gold Coast.
“The (5km) at the end was a rollercoaster,” Austin said today. “I felt really good one minute and really bad the next. I was in second and then I saw the other boys coming really fast behind me and I thought this might be fifth or sixth. When Birtwhistle went past me into second I just tried to switch off. I tried to focus. I tried to think about nothing else but moving my arms and legs.
“It worked for a while but then my whole body shut down. They were pretty worrying moments. I thought it was all over. There was under 1km to go and I was really worried. I was thinking that this was going to be one of those agonising fourth places where you’re caught on the line.”
The injury-hit Brownlee brothers refused to offer excuses after a shock defeat as they failed to make the podium.
Olympic champion Alistair, nursing a calf injury, dropped out of contention at the start of the the run phase eventually trailling in 10th.
Commonwealth triathlons consist of of a 750m open-water swim, a 20km cycle and a 5km run.
Alistair led after the transition from bike to run but quickly dropped back down the field.
He said: “About three quarters of it went alright. I knew I was going to struggle on the run and I was downplaying my chances. I’ve only run a handful of times in the last month or so.
“The last few weeks has been making sure the calf is alright to make sure I could get round properly.
“The swim and bike went well and I was just trying to pull that gap out as much as possible to give Jonny the best chance. It was a shame it didn’t work out for him.”
Jonny added: “It was pretty terrible today. I didn’t feel great. I’ve had ups and downs and I was injured in January so I missed a lot of training but I thought I was going to be better than that.
“I dived in and felt pretty weak on the swim and then I’m normally one of the strongest on the bike but I didn’t feel great. Then I started running and thought ‘oh dear, I’m in trouble here.’
“I knew Henri was in good shape and my first thought was ‘I wish I was fit’ because I would have gone with him.’
“I had a stress response in my femur at the start of January so I didn’t run for five or six weeks. I’m trying to get my injuries out of the way now.”
England’s Jessica Learmonth claimed silver in the women’s triathlon on the opening day of the Commonwealth Games.
The 29-year-old clocked 57 minutes and 38 seconds to finish second and 43 seconds behind Bermuda’s Flora Duffy at the Southport Broadwater.
Learmonth’s England team-mates Vicky Holland and Sophie Coldwell finished fourth and sixth respectively and Wales’ Non Stanford was a disappointing eighth.
Scotland’s Beth Potter, who will make history by also competing in the 10,000m on the track, finished a highly creditable 12th.