Aussie Team Fights Hard for Ninth Place at Tokyo 2020 Olympics

Australia's mixed relay team left nothing in the tank but it wasn't enough on the day to force their way into the medals as the event made its Olympic debut at Tokyo 2020.

Aussie Team Fights Hard for Ninth Place at Tokyo 2020 Olympics
Photo: Triathlon Australia | Bradley Kanaris

The Aussie team of Emma Jeffcoat, Matt Hauser, Ashleigh Gentle and Jake Birtwhistle were just unable to latch on to lead pack in the early stages of the race but showed tremendous resilience to fight their way back and finish ninth in a time of 1 hour, 26.27 minutes

Great Britain (1:23.41) with two individual silver medallists and legend Jonathon Brownlee in their team won the gold ahead of the USA (1:23.55) and France (1:24.04).

“It’s obviously a tough one to have a race like that where we struggled to make the top 10 but I guess that’s just elite sport, some days it’s there and some days it’s not,” said Birtwhistle.

“Unfortunately, the team today was just a little bit off the pace. We gave it all we could.”

Birtwhistle bringing it home for the Aussies had the third best final leg and the quickest run of the day.
Hauser, who raced second for the Aussies, said the sprint format of the race is particularly demanding.

“It’s 20 minutes of hell for leather out there and I felt like I was breathing razor blades and breathing through a straw,” he said.

“You’re on the ribbon from start to finish, basically from the dive right til when you collapse across the line and tag your team-mates.

“I’m proud of how the guys pushed to the end.

“It’s not the result we wanted obviously, we wanted to be challenging for the medals, but sometimes you have those days.”

Jeffcoat said the inclusion of the mixed relay event in the Olympic program added a new dimension to the sport, for both the athletes and fans.

“It’s very exciting for the sport,” Jeffcoat said.

“It’s such an individual sport but when we get the opportunity to step up as a team and race as the four of us, everyone lifts and you feel like you want to do it for the rest of your team-mates. It’s a pretty good feeling but it also makes the disappointment when you don’t perform even greater.”

Jeffcoat as the lead leg for Australia was fourth out of the swim but had some troubles in the hectic transition and was 13th on to the bike. Despite doing everything possible to close the gap this is the placing she handed over to Hauser.

Gentle, who was the third racer for the green and gold rode most of the bike on her own but finished strongly with the third fastest run split for her leg. She knows the future was bright for the sport as the depth of talent continues to build.

“We’ve got some amazing talent in Australia and I feel like we are just still developing it,” she said.

“I guess I’ve been around for a while repping the green and gold and there’s just such good talent like Matt and he’s going to continue to get better and better as the years go by, so I’m going to be really excited to watch everyone.

“I see so much talent and I see so much drive and I feel like this is only going to make everyone stronger. I’m really proud of the whole squad.

“I think we’ll have big things coming in Paris.”

The exciting and fast racing in the Mixed Relay event definitely justified the inclusion in the Olympic schedule.

Mixed Relay Triathlon Finish Time – Australia – 9th place – 01:26:27
Leg 1 Emma Jeffcoat: 00:22:09
Leg 2 Matt Hauser: 00:20:56
Leg 3 Ash Gentle: 00:22:57
Leg 4 Jake Birtwhistle: 00:20:25