Launceston’s Jake Birtwhistle added triathlon team gold to his individual silver medal in another stunning performance at the Commonwealth Games.
A couple of days after storming to second place around the Southport Broadwater Parkland course, the 23-year-old took another step up the podium thanks to a superb effort by the Australian mixed team relay quartet.
In what swiftly became a two-horse race between the reigning Commonwealth and Olympic champions ahead of the event joining the Olympic program in 2020, Gillian Backhouse and Matthew Hauser kept neck-and-neck with the English before Ashleigh Gentle surged ahead to hand Birtwhistle a 39-second advantage over Olympic and world champion Alistair Brownlee.
The Tasmanian star never looked back over the 250-metre swim (3:27), 7km ride (9:57) and 1500m run (4:31) and was able to celebrate the team's 50-second winning margin on the final straight.
“That was amazing out there,” Birtwhistle said.
“Being the last leg you never really know what to expect. It can go good or bad for you but thankfully with Gillian, Matt and Ash they did an amazing job and exactly what we had to do.
“Thankfully I was the first one to be rewarded because I knew I was in control and had another gear there if I needed it but I didn't. To cross the line in the gold medal position is amazing.
“We're all in it together but there's nothing I can do while I'm sitting in the athletes' lounge waiting.
“You just have to trust them. We all know we're out there for the same reason and that's to win. And everyone did what they had to.
“I certainly did feel the pressure when I was waiting to be tagged and as soon as I saw Ash coming down on that last run I could see there was a pretty solid gap and from there I just made the decision to just stay in control.
“I knew that Ali was going to be putting everything into the swim and bike so my worst case scenario would be getting off the bike with him and could then outrun him so I was able to save that little bit on the swim and bike and once I got to the run I knew that was it.
“I still was running solid just to make sure but it was quite comfortable that we had it wrapped up.”
The former under-23 world champion, who narrowly missed selection to the Olympic Games in Rio, could reflect on a stunning maiden Commonwealth Games.
And he was looking forward to cheering on his fellow Tasmanians on the Gold Coast, beginning with long-time cross-country adversary Stewart McSweyn, who will contest the 5000m on Sunday.
“My first Games and what a way to start it. It's a great feeling,” he said.
“I'll definitely be out there trying to watch a bit. I've got my tickets to watch Stewy tomorrow and can't wait for that. “I started racing against Stewy when I was probably 10-years-old and we've been really close since then and it's great to see him going really well.”