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Australia strike Mixed Relay gold in Abu Dhabi

Australia strike Mixed Relay gold in Abu Dhabi

Tasmania’s Jake Birtwhistle who was eighth yesterday in the individual sprint race at the World Triathlon Series Abu Dhabi, anchored the team to a stunning victory over the USA with New Zealand flying home to clinch the bronze.

Mixed Relay Team results have taken on a new level of significance as they count towards qualifying individual places for Tokyo 2020.

Australia are currently ranked first, and this win now positions us strongly in the Mixed Relay Olympic Qualification rankings.

Australia changed up its relay order with Ashleigh Gentle, tenth in yesterday’s individual race, leading off, followed by Commonwealth Games representative Luke Willian and NSW’s stalwart Emma Jeffcoat both debutants on the Mixed Relay team.

Gentle, Willian and Jeffcoat always had Team Australia in striking distance and despite trailing the USA by 17 seconds going into the final leg, Birtwistle’s strike power was always going to be the X factor.

Birtwhistle, second out of the swim, and into the final transition, kept Hemming within his sights and with just 2km to ride had caught him.

As they hit the final changeover together Birtwhistle took little time get into his rhythm. The former track runner put pressure on the American as he stepped up pace Hemming couldn’t match it and Birtwhistle wrapped up the gold for Australia, continuing to excel in the newest triathlon event added to the 2020 Tokyo Olympic program.

The 25-year-old running machine from Launceston was quick to praise his team mates.

“I’ve been the anchor before I guess I’m always thankful to have a strong team. We have never used this team before and once again we’ve come out and won the race, it’s great for us all, and it’s great for triathlon in Australia that we’re able to come out and do well in these events.

Gentle was swapped out of her usual position as third leg to lead off today, the Gold Coaster has previously led off the team when we won in Edmonton last year.

“Sometimes I don’t like it when I hear it, but I get it together and make sure I give it my all and focus on what I need to do.

“I was happy with my leg today and felt like I set it up really well for Luke who did amazing, he and Emma are debutants on the mixed relay team and we came together really well the four of us,” said Gentle.

Silver medallist yesterday America’s Taylor Spivey continued her good form etching out a 20 second break on the rest of the field on the bike.

Gentle began to surge her way through the pack and drove hard on the bike to ensure she was always within striking distance on the run and she was able to tag Willian second behind the American’s.

Willian was up against Mixed Relay specialist Ben Kanute (USA), a strong swim/biker, but he had a brilliant leg to eventually hand over to Jeffcoat in first place and a 10 second lead.

Gold medallist from yesterday’s event Katie Zaferes (USA) was next into the water behind Jeffcoat. The pair came together on the bike, working together to eventually etching out a 33 second lead from the chase group. 

“We all just play to our strengths and everyone just goes out there and really rips in and gives it their best. We have no weak legs, everyone’s got a strong competitive race leg in them. It’s pretty epic to line up,” said Jeffcoat.

Zaferes was quick to gap Jeffcoat on the 1500m run but the Aussie hung tough to hand off to possibly the best ‘anchor man’ in triathlon, Birtwhistle who again finished off the job his team set him up for.

“I’m really happy with my leg today to bring it home for the rest of these guys,” said Birtwhistle.

Triathlon Australia’s High Performance Director Justin Drew was full of praise for the team performance, specifically with the two new debutantes who both delivered outstanding performances supported by our two best athletes in Jake and Ashleigh.

“We put a lot of emphasis on developing our Mixed Relay team, and we make no secret that we are targeting gold in Tokyo. It was extremely pleasing to see Luke and Emma fill their roles in the team structure, which was again another new combination for us,” said Drew.

Results: Mixed Relay


Team I Australia




Team I United States




Team I New Zealand




Team I France




Team I Germany