The women’s Olympic triathlon finished with a sprint, and the winner was decided by a photograph. Switzerland’s Nicola Spirig won the gold medal despite clocking the exact same time of 1 hour 59 minute and 48 second as the now silver medalist Sweden’s Lisa Norden. Both women sprinted across the finish line at the same time, but after several minutes of discussion, the photograph showed Spirig as the winner.
The race delivered on the hype of being one of the most competitive triathlon of all time. It was a battle among all the women during the swim and the bike. Spirig was actually 18th at the end of the swim, but started to catch up on the bike, and then was leading the pack by the run. It came down to a final six during the run with Spirig, Norden, Australia’s Erin Desham, American Sarah Groff, Great Britain’s Helen Jenkins, and New Zealand’s Andrea Hewitt.
When there were 50 meters to go, Spirig broke away, and it seemed like victory was locked in. But Norden burst into a sprint and chased down Spirig right to the finish. The Australian Erin Desham took the bronze, and American Sarah Groff settled for fourth place.
After Norden discovered she came in second, she commented, “I hoped maybe I just got my chest out there. Guess I need bigger boobs for next year.” That is a physical advantage that rarely is explored among athletes, and I wonder if my own beer gut would aid in photo finishes.
The gold medal favourite Great Britain’s Helen Jenkins came in fifth place. It was known beforehand that almost anyone had a shot to win the race, but Great Britain had high hope she’d bring home the gold. The triathlon has exploded in popularity in Great Britain, but unfortunately, they’ll now have to wait for the men’s triathlon to possibly get their first Olympic medal in the sport. Jenkins pulled off a gritty performance that she should be proud of, because it was later discovered she has been struggling with a knee injury for the last month. Jenkins was in contention for most of the race, but the last stretch of the run proved to be too much for her knee.
Canada’s Paula Findlay returned from an injured hip that knocked her out for a year and also out of the number one world ranking. The Olympics is a hard place to make a comeback, and Findlay appeared to not be fully healed as she finished last. Findlay was heartbroken and apologized to her country, but as a fellow Canadian, a world class athlete who gutted out an injury to finish a grueling race doesn’t need to apologize to someone who sits on his ass and cheers her on.
Spirig won a hard fought race in the most spectacular fashion possible. She is also very thankful we have that invention known as the camera.
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(Image courtesy of NBC)