|HOME | SPORTS | OLYMPICS | NEWS|
September 16, 2000
Swiss stun Aus in triathlonThe Rediff Team
The women's triathlon was easily the blue-riband event on the first morning of the first full day of Olympic competition -- if only because the home crowd, which turned out in force at Sydney Harbour, was salivating at the prospect of a one-two-three result.
These hopes had much to do with the fact that Michelle Jones and Loretta Harrop were ranked one-two in the world, and another Australian, Nicole Hackett, is the reigning world champion.
Further helping the Australian cause was a controversial race start draw, which placed Hackett and Harrop side-by-side on the swim pontoon. The British appealed, but lost, and the draw meant that the two fancied Australians could work together on the 1.5km swim.
As the formbook dictated, the two Aussies were fancied to hold off the competition in the swim and bike legs, while Michelle Jones was due to come into her own on the final phase, the run, in which she was considered particularly strong.
Someone tore up the script, though, and wrote another one.
48 triathletes took to the sub-20 degree waters off Sydney Harbour to a huge roar from the crowd -- a roar that became a touch subdued early on, when Sheila Taormina of the US took an early lead over the Australian contingent. Nicole Hackett and Loretta Harrop of Australia followed on the heels of the leader, while world number one Michellie Jones lay in third.
At the end of the sea swim, it was still Taormina leading, in 19.02, followed by Isabelle Mouthon-Michellys (France) in 19:19, Loretta Harrop of Australia in 19:33, Magali Messmer of Switzerland in 19:38, Nicole Hackett of Australia in 19:40, and Joelle Franzmann of Germany in 19:40.
Taormina maintained her lead in the early stages of the bike leg, shading Hackett by over 30 seconds as she passed the Art Gallery, but from that point on, the lead changed rapidly between the US star and her Australian rivals.
At the end of the bike leg, the field was ranked in this order: Michellie Jones (Aus) 1:25:16.78; Joelle Franzmann (Germany) 1:25:17.08; Isabelle Mouthon-Michellys (France) 1:25:17.48; Christine Hocq (France) 1:25:17.68; Nicole Hackett (Australia) 1:25:18.18; Loretta Harrop (Australia) 1:25:18.68; Magali Messmer (Switzerland) 1:25:19.38.
Into the final stretch, featuring the ten km run, the Australians came under increasing pressure as Magali Messmer and Joanna Zeiger of the US broke through to challenge Jones and Harrop.
Heading into the final kilometer of the run, it was Messmer in the lead from the Australian duo, with Zieger lying in fourth and Brigitte McMahon of Switzerland lying quietly in fifth.
Timing her end run perfectly, McMahon challenged as the field moved into the second lap. Harrop was the first casualty of the pressure, as she trailed away behind the leaders. Jones, however, kept the Aussie hopes alive, keeping pace with the leaders.
Into the final lap, McMahon and Messmer changed leads. Heading towards the Opera House finish line, Jones was cheered on by the Australian crowd gathered for the finish, but failed to show the legs to beat back McMahon. The Swiss miss held on to her lead, to breast the tape five meters ahead of her Australian rival. Magali Messmer came in third, giving Switzerland two medals out of three.
In an event that Australia was supposed to sweep, Joanna Zeiger of the US denied the home crowd even the tiny satisfaction of a fourth placing, beating last year's world champion Loretta Harrop to that spot.
Final timings: Brigitte McMahon (Switzerland) 2:00:40.52; Michellie Jones (Australia) 2:00:42.55; Magali Messmer (Switzerland) 2:01:08.83; Joanna Zeiger (US) 2:01:25.74; Loretta Harrop (Australia) 2:01:42.82.
TRAVEL | NEWSLINKS
ROMANCE | WEDDING | BOOK SHOP | MUSIC SHOP | GIFT SHOP | HOTEL BOOKINGS
AIR/RAIL | WEATHER | FREE MESSENGER | BROADBAND | E-CARDS | EDUCATION
HOMEPAGES | FREE EMAIL | CONTESTS | FEEDBACK