By Karl Hayes
Matilda Raynolds is in her first year as a pro and whilst she has had a few podiums at Olympic and sprint distance this is her first podium at a major long distance race. When Michelle Wu and Lisa MarangonÂ exited T1 ahead of the bunch and put some time on the rest of the field on the bike the race for Matilda was about third place. (results click here)
I asked herÂ the day after the race whether it had sunk in yet. â€œWhen I think about it, it’s really exciting. Just to be lining up against far more experienced and faster athletes than I was pretty surrealâ€.
Matilda’s race plan came off well and she was happy to be able to back herself and negative split most of her times. â€œI still feel new to racing particularly long course so everything is still a bit of trial and error. I let the other girls go on off on the first 4km as well as the first lap on the bike and was stoked to see Rebecca (Everleigh) only 5 seconds in front of me in T2 after losing sight of her very quickly on the first bike lapâ€.
Eveleigh went fast out on to the run which meant Raynolds had to try to minimise the gap for the first 7kms. â€œAt about the 7km mark I caught up over a slight hill and moved away from her, however she came back and stayed on my heels for majority of the 21km, which was hard particularly with the wind and her sitting in behind. Rebecca had a great run and I have never met a more encouraging competitor, every time she came up next to me I tried to move ahead again hoping I would break her, however I was getting concerned that I may actually drop myself if I kept it upâ€. Finally it looked like Eveleigh had hit the wall and Raynolds was able to break away with about 5km to go.
â€œA part of me knew I had 3rd but I kept imaging Rebecca was just behind to push me through. It’s not over until you take that timing chip off!â€ We know that Matilda would have been really disappointed and had a whole bag of excuses ready for Coach should she have not been able to hold Rebecca Eveleigh off. â€œI think with having my family there and knowing it would be really good exposure to podium for myself and sponsors it got me over the line, when it would have been easier to let Rebecca passâ€.
How did you pull up the next morning? â€œPretty well, legs are a little tight but I’m mainly just tired. Michelle deserves all the accolades she receives, to beÂ her sizeÂ and to be so strong on the bike and recover so well after Phuket, she had a great raceâ€
What is next? Break over Xmas or continue training? â€œI will now mix base training with Christmas drinks and then off to Jindabyne with Frank Conceicao in the New Year for a bike training camp which will be great www.voyagervelo.com.auâ€.