We sometimes prepare for the worst and hope for the best, especially in this type of scenario. You spend all this time developing yourself, and you know it might not work out. You hope to be selected, but you might also be preparing yourself for nothing. You’re protecting yourself for when that happens so you can almost be accepting of the outcome. You’d love to be on the start line, especially when you’re up here on the Gold Coast and hearing all the hype around it.
I had a long recovery due to my plantar fasciitis over 12 months ago which had put me back a lot. We found out November last year that Jake had already qualified and four realistic chances had to fit into two. I gave myself a 50/50 chance.
When I got the call, I knew there was a high chance I wasn’t selected. I wasn’t.
Things shifted slightly from there. I came up with an idea. I thought, “Hang on a second. Maybe there’s an opportunity to be part of the Commonwealth Games on the other side of the fence.”
I contacted Ian Hansen, our media liaison, about becoming a commentator, and he loved the idea. So from here on, I’d be looking through the lens of a commentator and not a racer. It feels strange that I’m not out there and believe me, I want to be there.
After a few months, Channel 7 got back to me and said they potentially wanted to work with me. This was when my mind shifted from athlete mode to the other side of the fence.
It’s study time
To prepare, I had to study the competitors more thoroughly than I would as an athlete. As a commentator, you need a lot of details like bios, past race results, and lots of stats. David, the lead commentator, and others call me an expert, even though it’s my first time. I provide insights into personalities. David is the stats guy, which relieves some of the pressure.
I need to create a narrative that will guide the audience toward cheering or not cheering for particular athletes. Like a heroes and villains stories.
I already know Jake and Richard are some of the best runners, so I didn’t need to study them. I need to know how they race, and why they do particular things as well. It’s a tactical analysis of how the race will unfold.
The Commonwealth Games Triathlon Course
The ride and run are neither hilly nor technical. There is nothing special about them. The swim is standard, too. There’s an active current pushing the athletes out to the first buoy, and it’s against them on the way back. They want to align toward the middle or right, so the current is stronger pushing them out. They might want to be closer to shore on the way back. If the wind is typical, it’ll be a tailwind out to the U-turn.
They’ll likely have a briefing about it tonight and get to choose their pontoons.
There is a solid group of people for the men’s and women’s races. Sometimes it’s the course that makes the race interesting, and sometimes it’s the athletes. I believe the athletes will make the race this time.
Men’s Race Predictions
Alistair and Jonathan Brownlee and Henri Schoeman will be the stars this year. Jonathan, Henri, and Alistair, in that order. It will be decided in the first 2-3 minutes of the bike ride. By then, we’ll know how the race will go. You’ll have Jake and Richard and others trying to chase them down.
If it doesn’t go down that way in the first 2-3 minutes of the bike, then Jake, Richard and others could change the podium if they’re close enough by then.
I predict honourable mentions for Richard Murray and Matthew Hauser. However, if they’re within touching distance out of the swim, that could change the race.
For Jake, it comes down to the swim. If he gets off the bike in the lead group, I’m betting on him to win. It’s going to come down to him and Richard, and I think Jake will outrun Richard.
I haven’t put Luke Willian in my top 3, but he’s on the rise with the swim. He had a good year last year. He’s almost a dark horse. He could do a race like Belfast the previous year where he pushed Jake to the line. What are his weaknesses and strengths? He’s a little younger, and a little inconsistent. People can’t predict his performance well. He has the potential to be in the top group of the start list.
Women’s Race Predictions
Flora Duffy, Vicki Holland, and Non Stanford will be on top. Honourable mentions to Ash Gentle, Andrea Hewitt and Jess Learmonth.
Obviously, Flora and Jess won’t want to be anywhere near Ash Gentle, Vicki Holland, and Non Stanford onto the bike and starting the run.
Flora has improved her run tenfold since Rio. Vicki, Ash, and Non won’t want to give her anything, maybe a few years ago they might have but not now. They may be thinking they can run her down in 20 or 30 seconds lead in a sprint distance. They know she’s good on the swim and bike, and it may be unrealistic to plan to be with her off the bike. It might just be damage limitation, and then having to run like hell. If they have 25 seconds, we’ve got a race on our hands, to Ash, Vicki and Non. Anything over 25, then Flora has a good chance of winning. Otherwise, it swings back to the other girls’ favour.
Ash is probably the best runner in the field. We’ll know more within a minute out of the swim where Ash is. She could win gold. She has that calibre in her run. Everyone else will make sure they’ll do everything they can to not be with her off the bike.
Charlotte McShane finished on the podium in Cozumel. If she does as well as then, then she has a shot at making the podium. If she gets off the bike in touch with the leaders, she’ll show she’s capable with the best of those girls.
Gillian Backhouse has the swimming ability, and she’s strong on the bike. It will depend on what the chase group does and if they get too far away. If that chase group doesn’t organise themselves quickly, then she may see the lead women get away. If all her cards are played well, I suspect she will be fighting for a medal alongside Coldwell and Learmonth.