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September 17, 2000
Canadian surge nets triathlon goldThe Rediff Team
A dramatic late surge saw Canada's Simon Whitfield become the first ever Olympic gold medal in the men's triathlon which, like the women's event yesterday, makes its debut as an Olympic sport in Sydney.
And as on day one for the women's event, this one drew packed crowds at Sydney Harbour, as the athletes plunged into the cold waters.
Australia's Craig Walton was an early leader, with British medal hope Simon Lessing in hot pursuit and Hamish Carter of New Zealand in third, during the sea-swim leg.
Walton led start to finish in the sea, the top five contestants coming out of the water in this order: Craig Walton (Aus) 17:17; Simon Lessing (GBR) 17:18; Hamish Carter (NZL) 17:23; Hideo Fukui (JPN) 17:26; Joachim Willen (SWE) 17:27.
In the cycle leg, Walton -- whose strength was identified as cycling -- continued in the lead, with Lessing still pressing him hard. Around the halfway mark, however, Japan's Takumi Obara made his move, breaking away from the pack while France's Stephan Bignet made a similar break. The lead position changed at this point, with Obara, Bignet and Walton in that order heading the pack.
Vasileois Krommydas of Greece made a late surge, while Obara fell away, seemingly exhausted by the effort of surging, albeit momentarily, into the lead. Simultaneously, France's reigning world champion Olivier Marceau and South Africa's Conrad Stoltz made their breaks, while Aussie hopes rested on Walton and Miles Stewart, heading the pack chasing the leaders.
Stoltz and Marceau ended the bike leg in that order, with Walton coming in third. Times at the end of the bike leg read: Olivier Marceau (FRA) 1:16.24; Conrad Stoltz (RSA) 1:16.25; Craig Walton (AUS) 1:17.20; Miles Stewart (AUS) 1:17.20 and Dmitriy Gaag (KAZ) 1:17.21.
Marceau headed the field going into the final phase, but the world champion appeared to have used up too much of his energy in attempting to go into the lead -- which didn't make for a promising finish, given the two hills the triathletes had to cross.
During the final leg, the lead kept changing, with the Czech Republic's Jan Rehula making his move here, moving up to third and holding his place behind the leaders.
Germany's Stephan Vuckovic predictably went past the visibly tiring Marceau, but at the very last phase, Canada's Simon Whitfield produced a brilliant burst to race past the leader and break the tape in a thrilling finish to the endurance test. Rehula finished third.
The top five were Simon Whitfield (CAN) 1:48.24; Stephan Vuckovic (GER) 1:48.37; Jan Rehula (CZE) 1:48.46; Dimitriy Gaag (KAZ) 1:49.03; Ivan Rana (ESP) 1:49.10
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