The outcome was practically determined before the race even began, but it doesn't make it any less impressive -- Alistair Brownlee won the men's triathlon at the 2012 Summer Olympics on Tuesday, giving Great Britain its first-ever medal in the sport.
Spain's Javier Gomez, finishing 11 seconds back, won the silver medal, and Alistair's younger brother, Jonathan, took home the bronze. American Hunter Kemper, 36, one of just two athletes to compete in all four Olympic triathlons, finished 14th. Teammate Manuel Huerta was 50th (out of 55 athletes).
For Alistair, the current No. 1 ranked triathlete in the world, the win is a culmination of sorts. The 24-year-old has dominated the sport in the international level for three years now, winning the ITU Triathlon World Championships in both 2009 and 2011 (Gomez won in 2008 and 2010). It also marks the completion of his comeback after tearing his left Achilles tendon in February 2012.
He was in the lead group coming out of the swim, during the bike and was in front as they made their way onto the run, and it was there he pulled away, as is customary. Brownlee runs at a pace that other triathletes simply cannot match -- he completed the 10km in 29:07, which is a 4:42/mile pace, and that's after a 1500m swim and 43km bike. To put that time in perspective, a 29:07 would have won the women's 10,000m by a full 73 seconds.
Triathlon at the London Games was a 1500m swim in The Serpentine, a 43km-bike ride (seven 6.137km laps) and a 10km run (four 2.5km laps) in Hyde Park.
Slovakia's Richard Varga was the leader out of the swim, completing the 1500 meters in 16:56. He was followed by Gomez, Alessandro Fabian of Italy, Jonathan Brownlee, Russia's Ivan Vasiliev and favorite, Alistair Brownlee.
Great Britain's Brownlee brothers got themselves into the the lead group with three other riders on the bike, but by the second of seven laps, the break was caught by a chase of 17 riders, a selection that included American Hunter Kemper.
On lap two, Great Britain's third team member, Stuart Hayes, in the Olympics solely as a domestique to help the Brownlees medal, began to do the pace-making at the front of the lead group of 22 riders. That pack stayed together for the duration of the bike, with the same athletes leading the favorites into transition two.
Portugal's Joao Silva was the first out onto the run, followed by France's Vincent Luis, the Brownlee brothers and Germany's Jan Frodeno. Kemper was at the back of the group and was 20th coming out of T-2.
Early on in the run portion, a group of three -- the Brownlee brothers and Gomez -- quickly established themselves as the leaders, building a gap of almost 10 seconds after the first of four 1.55-mile laps. Halfway through the run, they'd stretched that advantage to almost a full 20 seconds. Kemper did his first two laps in 15:30, putting him in 14th place overall with 5km remaining.
On the third lap, Alistair began pulling away from Gomez as the two dropped Jonathan. Heading into the final lap, Alistair had a five-second gap on Gomez, with Jonathan 32 seconds back after serving a 15-second penalty for mounting his bike too soon out of T-1.
Alistair maintained his lead and took the race, 11 seconds ahead of Gomez, winning Great Britain's 19th gold of the Games, equaling the country's total from Beijing with still six days of competition remaining.
Canada's Simon Whitfield, the 2000 gold medal winner in the sport's Olympic debut and, with Kemper, one of the two athletes to compete in all four tris, crashed just seconds into the bike. With his feet still out of his shoes, Whitfield lost his balance on a speed bump, hit the curb and went down hard. He got back on his bike, but soon after withdrew from the race -- his "shoe may have malfunctioned" -- prematurely ending his Olympic career in one of the worst ways possible. Whitfield, the silver medal winner in 2008, was Canada's flag bearer at the Opening Ceremony.
Frodeno, the defending gold medalist, came in seventh place.
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