Olympian Matt Hauser has produced “a Usain Bolt moment” to bulldoze his way to a silver medal at the World Triathlon Championship Series race in Yokohama.
Seemingly out of contention, the 25-year-old produced a grandstand finish to celebrate one of his greatest ever performances after missing a month’s training due to an energy-sapping virus.
Hauser dug deeper than ever to surge over the top of Portugal’s Vasco Vilaca in the shadows of the finish line, prompting Vilaca to pronounce “it felt like Usain Bolt running passed me!”
The longer the race unfolded throughout the final 10km run on a slippery roadway, the more confident Hauser became as the front runners jostled for positions behind runaway leader and eventual winner Hayden Wilde from New Zealand.
Hauser was always in the race, exiting the swim in second place and staying in contention as upwards of 45 riders negotiated the rain-affected course - testing the skills of the 60-strong field.
Ever-present Frenchman Leo Bergere (who would finish fifth) along with the determined Wilde, took control in the early stages of the run before the confident Kiwi stole a march on the race, allowing the other contenders to sort out the minor medals.
It was Hauser who drifted up and down between the challengers during the final lap, who would produce his best ever finish.
“Honestly, I didn’t expect too much from this race after coming out of sickness for three weeks after Abu Dhabi, not doing too much training, but I guess that’s what self-belief gets you." said Hauser.
“It’s just a great credit to my team in Queensland on the Gold Coast, Dan Atkins my coach, the Queensland Academy of Sport and Triathlon Australia staff.
“It’s a credit to all those guys for keeping me in check, and I got the job done for them today.”
Hauser narrowly missed out on at WTCS Yokohama podium at last seasons race, finishing fourth. A result that provided all the extra drive needed to secure a medal this time around.
“It would’ve stung if I got another fourth place here, so I had to prove the haters wrong and get on that dais,” said Hauser. “During the run when I started bridging the gap to the three or four runners up ahead of me, that’s when I knew I had that belief in my sprint finish.
“From all the Super League racing and good Mixed Team Relay racing I’ve been doing. I just kept believing in myself.
“I wasn’t sure whether I’d be cramping or not in those last two laps but I managed to hold strong and kick on.”
Before the race his long-time coach Dan Atkins gave an insight into Hauser’s disrupted preparation but the driving force and mental toughness he has to race.
“Matt had a really rough trot after Abu Dhabi he had a lingering virus that just wouldn’t go away,” said Atkins.
“But adrenaline is a great thing and come race day when his racing starts he's capable of anything, once he gets to the start line.
“It's important to get in there, six weeks ago I was worried about him.
“But thankfully he’s overcome the sickness and we’ve been pretty methodical with the planning and doing some different stuff to analyse how he’s going about things.
“Matt has been a little bit more held back than what you expect going into a WTCS race but the more we stoke the fire with Matt the more he’ll get out of himself.
“He won’t be 100 percent for Yokohama, but he just loves racing and just the thought of racing will invigorate him and he will be ready to give it everything he’s got.
“That’s something I’m definitely sure he’ll do come Yokohama.”
And truer words have not been spoken as Atkins and Hauser now plot their way towards the Paris Test event with his Australian teammates all inspired by Hauser’s performance.
The other Australian men all stayed in contention in what was a tough day in the office with Luke Willian 32nd, Jake Birtwhistle 42nd, Brandon Copeland 45th and Callum McClusky lapped out of the race.
The women’s race saw Natalie Van Coevorden the best of the Elite women in 14th after putting together an impressive performance from the get-go.
In other results Kira Hedgeland finished 32nd, Sophie Linn 41st and Jaz Hedgeland 46th.
Team AUS Results
Matt Hauser - 2nd
Luke Willian - 32nd
Jake Birtwhistle - 42nd
Brandon Copeland 45th
Callum McClusky - LAP
Natalie Van Coevorden - 14th
Kira Hedgeland - 32nd
Sophie Linn - 41st
Jaz Hedgeland - 46th